PLAYERS in the livestock industry have hailed efforts by the Government to revive ailing meat processor and marketer, Cold Storage Company (CSC), describing them as a major stride towards enhancing the agricultural sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union Matabeleland North chairman, Mr Winston Babbage, said Bulawayo’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) technical working committee had identified CSC to be considered under the investment promotion drive thus its newly found investor was expected to play an integral role in reviving the parastatal as well as the entire livestock sector.
“The CSC is part of the industries identified to be put under SEZs. We want it and the entire beef to leather value chain revived. We are happy that an investor to revive the CSC has been identified but the investor should be in a position to come up with various programmes aimed at enhancing the livestock sector such as the Cattle Input Scheme, which used to be funded by CSC way back,” said Mr Babbage.
CSC has identified a United Kingdom-based investor set to inject $100 million into its operations and Government has already approved the deal.
“The investor should also be in a position to pay farmers even for the fifth quarter, which includes the hide and refrain from exporting raw hides as we solely need it for the leather sector. In fact the investor should be willing to abide by the rules and parameters guiding its business operations in the country,” said Mr Babbage.
He said Government’s Command Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme has kick started efforts to revive the cattle industry but there was a need to introduce new breeds to improve the quality of cattle in the country.
“The investor should come up with programmes aimed at improving the genetics of our cattle. There is no doubt that Command Livestock is a very noble idea but the problem is that cattle are only being bought within the country and it becomes a challenge for us to improve on our genetics thus we should import better breeds from other countries,” said Mr Babbage.
Matabeleland South provincial crops and livestock officer Mrs Simangaliphi Ngwabi said the new investor should capacitate CSC to resume exports.
“It will depend on what the investor is offering but any form of investment towards livestock in Matabeleland is good and any investor will be assured of good returns. It has to be noted that for Command Livestock to be in place it had a buy-in from investors after having seen its value and as such the investor who has expressed interest to invest in CSC has seen value in it. The revival of CSC will open up markets even for exports of which it was failing to explore as it was financially incapacitated,” said Mrs Ngwabi.
CSC, at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, handled up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products a year and exported beef to the European Union.
Mismanagement and persistent outbreaks of the Foot and Mouth disease halted the exports in 2001, affecting its viability.
Leather Institute of Zimbabwe executive board chairman, Mr Cornelio Sunduza, said the revival of CSC would play a significant part in increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country.
He said there was a need to capacitate all the players in the livestock industry.
“The coming in of an investor to fund CSC is partially good and partially not good. Good in that FDI money is coming into the country but the local stakeholders such as farmers, leather sector, agricultural tertiary institutes and research institutes all have critical roles to play but they are not in the picture of the grand plan. Command Livestock is not yet clear to us (other stakeholders) as we haven’t seen the blue print,” said Mr Sunduza. – Chronicle