FOLLOWING shocking reports of 95 cattle worth US$60 000 stolen at the Cold Storage Company (CSC)’s Dubani Ranch in Colleen Bawn last year, we found it imperative to mention that such acts of sabotage are a major blow not only to the company, but to Zimbabwe as these derail Government programmes.
It is disheartening to note that while the Government was in the process of resuscitating CSC, there have been such retrogressive acts that undermine the Livestock Growth Plan, which aims to grow the sub-sector to US$1,9 billion by 2025.
The Livestock Growth Plan is part of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy which targets a US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025, which also anchors and propels Zimbabwe towards Vision 2030 to become an upper middle-class economy.
Improving the cattle figures from 2019 baseline of 5,4 million to six million in 2025 with a beef output of 90 000 tonnes and milk production from 79,9 million to 150 million litres are some of the targets of the Livestock Growth Plan.
The programme also aims at increasing the national dairy herd from 38 000 in 2019 to 60 000 by 2025.
It is in this context that the acts of sabotage such as the stock thefts not only at CSC, but across the country must be nipped in the bud.
Thus, the police should be on top of the situation to annihilate cattle thefts happening across the country as the CSC livestock thefts could just be a tip of the iceberg.
Boustead Beef consultant Mr Reginald Shoko is on record saying stock theft is a threat to livestock farmers across the country and police should be on top of the situation to annihilate the vice.
“As it stands, we have stock theft incidents almost every two days in our various farms across all the regions.
Also, you have to remember that we are not just keeping ordinary cattle, but high breed with good quality beef, which in itself is an investment,” he said.
However, the police must be commended for the progress they have so far made recovering seven branded cattle valued at US$4 200 from a suspect, Brighton Siziba from Tibeli area in Guyu.
The beasts were recovered from the suspect’s kraal last Friday.
Siziba who is still at large was allegedly involved in the theft of cattle between April 28 and November 21 last year.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi has been quoted saying, “The cattle were positively identified by the complainant and the suspect fled from the scene.
“Anyone with information should contact any nearest police station.”
Once Zimbabwe’s largest beef processor and marketer, CSC went into insolvency in recent years due to mounting legacy debts, maladministration and alleged corruption.
As part of the Government’s commitment to reviving CSC, Cabinet has approved the US$400 million joint venture deal between CSC and a United Kingdom investor, Boustead Beef (Pvt) Ltd.
The investor is already on the ground working on restoring the company to its past glory where it used to handle up to150 000 tonnes of beef and associated products annually.
Part of CSC resuscitation includes the upgrading of key infrastructure such as boilers, condensers, compressors, and converyor belts among others.
In addition, a solar power plant was also in the process of being constructed at the company’s headquarters in Bulawayo.
At its peak in the 1990s, CSC was earning the country US$45 million per annum from exports to the European Union and the region to countries such as Zambia, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.