The Cold Storage Company (CSC) has embarked on a massive rehabilitation of infrastructure at its ranches across the country as it prepares to resume full-scale operations before the end of the year.
Cabinet recently approved a US$400 million joint venture deal between CSC and a UK investor, Boustead Beef (Pvt) Ltd.
The facility will be spread over the next three to four years. Under the first phase of the CSC revitalisation project, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, will invest US$130 million.
In an interview during a media tour of Dubane ranch on the outskirts of Gwanda on Tuesday, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe estate manager, Raphael Makondora, said their business model involved resuscitation of all ranches in the country in collaboration with strategic partners that include livestock specialists.
“Our business model is getting the ranches going while we also revive the CSC plant in Bulawayo.
“We also have developing models for security for farmers as well. So, we concentrate on farmers and all the farms in Zimbabwe to help them irrigate the pastures, have feedlots and supply CSC with cattle,” he said.
During the tour our Bulawayo Bureau observed that a lot of infrastructure rehabilitation was being undertaken.
The ranch covers 35 000 hectares and has a minimum carrying capacity of 3 500 cattle, located between Gwanda and West Nicholson in Ward 21. The rehabilitation exercise covers fire guards, erection of a perimeter fence, cutting down big trees, dip tanks and drilling of boreholes.
“Solar powered water pumps have also been installed. We are also working on supplementing the water from Umzingwane River where we are going to install water pipes for our livestock,” said Makondora.
Boustead Beef Zimbabwe plans to increase the ranch’s carrying capacity and would do the same on others working closely with partners such as local and foreign livestock specialists.
“Our concentration is the CSC business (slaughter and value addition), while our partners who are livestock specialists come in to do the ranches,” he said.
“The partnership is part of our business model because it’s impossible for us to do the ranches by ourselves within a short space of time considering that CSC hasn’t worked for 15 years. Through the help of our partners, we think first production will be before Christmas, which is quite good for an infrastructure that hasn’t worked for 15 years.”
Maphaneni ranch in Kezi, Matabeleland South, has been fully developed.
The 18 000ha ranch has 2 400 cattle and some were being taken to Dubane ranch as breeding and slaughter stock. Boustead Beef has pledged to continue offering relief grazing for local communities to save livestock from starvation in dry areas.
“We are also going to resuscitate cattle sale pens where local farmers are going to get value for their cattle. We are going to resuscitate water points as well for their cattle.
“We have also rehabilitated the road linking Bulawayo to Beitbridge highway to the ranch and this is also part of our social corporate responsibility,” said Makondora.
The resuscitation of CSC ranches and infrastructure has also created employment for locals with Dubane ranch alone employing over 100 people from the nearby communities and the figure is expected to rise as more breeding and slaughter stock are brought to the farm. CSC also has other ranches in areas such as Darwendale in Mashonaland West province, Masvingo, Marondera, and Kadoma.
It is believed that the rejuvenation of CSC will go a long way in improving the economy through beef exports as it will unlock value in the livestock industry.
At its peak, the beef processor and marketer used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products annually and exported to the European Union, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef. The company used to earn the country about $45 million per year.