GOVERNMENT is strategically positioning the Cold Storage Company for take off as efforts to mobilise US$48 million to breathe life into the 79-year institution gather pace.
The money will go towards restocking, re-equipping and supporting pasture development.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made told The Sunday Mail Business recently that Government wanted to up meat exports in the medium-term.
“We are undertaking surgical work at the Cold Storage Company, which will superintend Command Livestock, which targets growing livestock and beef exports…
“Already an 11-member board has already been appointed (earlier this month) to implement plans we have devised to change the dynamics of the beef industry.
“Government has found new suitors to invest over US$48 million to resuscitate CSC facilities across the country but there is need to weigh up options to pick the one with the best possible terms,” said Dr Made.
A consortium from the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and Rwanda has indicated readiness to pour US$48 million into CSC.
The investment is, however, premised on access to land owned by CSC and its Matabele/Mashona cattle breed; deployment of supervised contract farming in the Lowveld and Matabeleland; access to animal husbandry expertise; retooling of CSC infrastructure, plant and equipment; and debt renegotiation.
Command Livestock puts emphasis on Matabeleland and Masvingo, with Manicaland and Mashonaland also included but on a smaller scale.
The project, which proposes to initially focus on beef and goat meat, is designed to leverage on grass-fed and organic meat.
Under Command Livestock, CSC will also up production of goats, sheep, pigs and poultry.
Through separate initiatives that are being pursued under the Command Livestock scheme, 600 000 livestock farmers in Matabeleland and Masvingo are already paddocking and stacking hay.
Government wants to catapult Zimbabwe’s beef industry back to 1990s levels when the country exported to the European Union (9 000 tonnes), Angola (12 000 tonnes), Indian Ocean Islands (3 000 tonnes) and Switzerland (1 500 tonnes).
The Preferential Trade Area Bank and the private sector will help fund Command Livestock.
Dr Made said, “We have made the livestock industry an appendage of Command Agriculture, and have secured funds for that. This includes dairy cattle, piggery, poultry and goats. As we all know, livestock is grown in the same way that we grow crops. Inputs such as vaccines and medicines are required in livestock rearing, and the requisite infrastructure is being put in place.
“This infrastructure includes paddocks, feeding areas and water points. We are also focusing on machinery and equipment that relates to livestock rearers. There is what we call sweet-veld, which you can harvest to make hay, but we need machinery for us to be able to do that.”
Sweet-veld is a grazing area with highly nutritious red grass that helps animals maintain optimum weight.
Attempts to get a comment from CSC chief executive Mr Ngoni Chinogaramombe were unsuccessful last week as his phone was not available.
Zimbabwe’s national herd has been depleted over the years due to successive droughts and foot and mouth disease outbreaks that have choked beef exports.
Economic decline, linked to illegal Western sanctions, also resulted in the CSC failing to meet technical export requirements.
Meat exports are a strong revenue earner for countries in Southern Africa.
Namibia exports around 18 100 tonnes of beef and veal, while Botswana hits annual tonnages of around 16 400.