According to the annual report issued by The State Bank of Pakistan, the leather industry of the country is in an alarming situation. While previously Pakistan was a major exporter of leather products and an influential player in the global leather trade, leather exports of the country have drastically reduced in the past few years. The report highlights that in the past two years, the output of the leather industry decreased by 26.4% and 9.1% respectively. This is majorly because of the low competitiveness of the leather industry of Pakistan.
Multiple reasons contribute to a low competitiveness of the leather industry in Pakistan. To begin with, there is a shortage of skilled labor supply which is needed for the job. Leather production is a technical process and requires skilled manpower. However, due to a lack of technical training centers and low literacy rate, Pakistan is unable to produce skilled manpower that can contribute to the production of leather using modern and effective production methods. Adding to this, the industry largely relies on old and outdated production techniques which leads to a lower yield and issues in production such as the preservation of raw materials.
Moreover, there is a lack of supporting industries that produce inputs and accessories required to manufacture leather products. The absence of supporting industries increases the cost of production as manufacturers have to import these items and pay heavy duty on them. Other than this, there are no joint ventures where Pakistani manufacturers collaborate with foreign companies. All of this coupled with little to no attention by the government and policymakers has further deteriorated the situation of the leather industry in the country.
But this does not mean that we lose hope. Asif Ali Gohar has a brilliant idea that can change the plight of the leather industry in Pakistan. Before we move towards his idea, it is important to know who Asif Ali Gohar is. Asif Ali is a Pakistani expat who now resides in Germany. He is a popular entrepreneur who is known for his innovative ideas. Asif has been a vegan for almost fifteen years now and has a keen interest in vegan products. Over the years, he has done research on finding vegan alternatives to leather and recently came across a method that converted rice into a polymer slime that looked similar to leather. Rice functions as the primary ingredient in the process but yeast and acetic acid are also required to convert it into vegan leather.
The condition of the leather industry is worsening with each passing day. In a case as such there is a dire need for an innovator like Asif Ali Gohar who can bring in new ideas to the table so that Pakistan can increase its leather industry output. Asif plans on establishing a vegan leather plant in Pakistan which would make the country the first vegan leather producing country in the region. Asif is looking for a joint venture where he can partner with existing companies producing animal leather products and convert them to leather products. As a result of this partnership or joint venture not only would there be a new revenue stream for the leather industry that caters to an ever-increasing demand of vegan leather but there would also be a flow of technology and modern manufacturing techniques. Over time, Pakistan would also be able to establish supporting industries that would help in production and further reduce the production cost.