Ethiopia exports first-ever donkey meat

ETHIOPIA – Shandong Dong Group, a Chinese donkey abattoir, shipped 25 tonnes of donkey meat to Vietnam last week, becoming the first of its kind for Ethiopia.

The slaughterhouse, located in Bishoftu (Debrezeit), exported the meat four months after the Bishoftu City Administration put a ban on the company following public discontent that burst out in social media platforms.

Being unpleasant and offensive to the people who are living near the plant was the primary reason stated by the Administration for the closure.

Although the company had slaughtered more than 2,000 donkeys before it was closed by the City Administration four months ago, it did not export the meat due to lack of facilities to ship the items, according to Lio Zhaohua, country director of Shandong.

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“We could not get refrigerated containers,” said Zhaohua, who finally shipped the meat using Maersk Line containers, a global logistics and shipping company.

Currently, about 50 tonnes of meat is still inside the freezer of the company, which is expected to be shipped in the next two weeks.

The Company, whose plant was erected half a year ago, initially planned to ship the skin to China, where it is a primary input to make local medicine, Ejiao, that treats diseases such as colds and insomnia. But they could not realise this as exporting the raw skins is subjected to a 150pc tariff taxation.

For this reason, the Company is currently lobbying the government to make a tariff reduction on donkey raw skin export, according to a source at the Meat & Dairy Industry Development Institute.

As of now, on average, donkey skin is sold around 400 dollars a kilogramme in China, which is five times higher than the price ten years ago.

Sprawled on 10,050sqm of land, Shandong has invested over 80 million Br in erecting the abattoir, which has the capacity of slaughtering 200 donkeys a day.

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The slaughterhouse, which has created employment opportunities for more than 200 locals, has brought mixed feelings during the closure.

While opening donkey slaughterhouses were banned as of 2014 in Ethiopia, the country also has another slaughterhouse in Assela, Rong Chang Slaughterhouse, which was constructed with 60 million Br.

But it did not become operational, as it is awaiting the government’s decision on whether or not to close donkey abattoirs.

If these companies become operational, annually they need around four percent of the donkey population, which stood at seven million up until last year, and have the capacity of contributing 20 million dollars to the export sector annually.

Globally, close to two million units of donkey skin are traded daily mainly in China.

Currently, the price of donkey meat ranges from 600 to 4,000 dollars a ton depending on the quality of the flesh, according to Alibaba, an e-commerce company, which provide sale services for different entities.

July 30, 2017: Addis Fortune

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