ETHIOPIA – The Ethiopian Meat Producers ‘-Exporters’ Association (EMPEA) has set a target of earning US$135 million through the export of 25,607 tons of meat products in the current fiscal year.

However, achieving this goal poses considerable challenges, including rising domestic prices, rampant livestock smuggling, and underutilized export slaughterhouses.

Ato Abebaw Mekonen, the General Secretary of EMPEA, acknowledged that recent peace and stability in Ethiopia have contributed to these price increases, rendering meat less affordable for many consumers.

Additionally, the illicit trade of livestock has adversely affected the meat sector, diverting resources from legitimate businesses and compromising the quality of meat products earmarked for export.

Despite having 11 export slaughterhouses, with two operated by foreign investors and the rest by local investors, Ethiopia’s meat production facilities are operating significantly below their capacity.

These facilities, capable of producing and processing up to 200,000 tons of meat annually for the global market, are facing underutilization challenges.

The main export destinations for Ethiopian meat and related products currently include the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

Efforts are underway to expand market reach, with a focus on penetrating the Chinese market and other viable markets by improving the quality of meat and dairy products.

Ethiopia, ranking sixth globally in livestock resources, has the potential to export 200 thousand tons of meat per year.

To harness this potential, a National Red Meat Strategy was launched in November 2022, aiming to increase red meat production and export, enhance market access, and develop the productivity of feed industries.

Earlier this year, the Livestock Development Institute (LDI) reported approximately US$ 86 million in revenue from animal product exports over the past eleven months.

The country exported about 20,000 tons of various animal products, including meat, honey, camel milk, and offal products, to destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Nigeria, and Kenya.

Sahlu Mulu, the Deputy Director General of the LDI, emphasized ongoing efforts to increase the value of these products and expand market destinations.

“New agreements have been established with countries like Cambodia, Seychelles, and Azerbaijan,” he stated.

Meanwhile, to boost exports further, Ethiopia is aiming to export US$141 million, or 38,000 tons, of meat and meat products in the current fiscal year.

The focus is on improving the quality and volumes of animal products, expanding export markets, and addressing challenges such as a poor marketing and distribution system, as well as a lack of coordination among abattoirs.

In the past 14 years, the country has faced income challenges in the sector, earning only US$1.1 billion Despite Ethiopia’s significant livestock resources.

The country is actively working on measures to increase export earnings, including the Yelemat Tirufat initiative, a four-year development program designed to boost animal products and enhance the livestock sector comprehensively.