Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Plumtree Correspondent
THE Cold Storage Company (CSC) has partnered with a local fuel company to roll out a restocking and recapitalisation programme, which will see farmers getting heifers on loan basis to grow their herd.
The Government is nursing CSC, which is poised for a rebound backed by the coming on board of partners, to ensure it spearheads the Command Livestock programme whose working document is awaiting Cabinet approval.
A new CSC board was recently put in place while the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has injected initial funding amounting to $18 million to kick-start CSC’s revival.
Speaking during the handover of heifers to Matabeleland South farmers under the livestock supply scheme at Maphaneni Ranch in Mangwe District last Thursday, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for livestock, Paddy Zhanda, said the joint venture would go a long way in capacitating farmers and reviving CSC fortunes towards exporting beef.
He said the Government was working flat out to put an end to the Foot and Mouth Disease, which is a major threat to the national herd.
Cases of FMD were discovered in 2015 during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair exhibition and since then the Government has used about $12 million in trying to contain the disease, said the Deputy Minister.
“As long as we have cases of foot and mouth in the country we won’t manage to export our beef anywhere. Since we had reports of the disease in 2015 we have been trying to battle it and it has cost us $12 million.
“Therefore we have put up measures to restrict movement of cattle in order to control diseases. Illegal movement of cattle is the major cause of foot and mouth and we will be forced to re-introduce the strategy of shooting and burning cattle that are moved illegally. We are going to closely monitor movement of cattle,” he said.
Cde Zhanda said more abattoirs should be constructed across the country in order to reduce movement of cattle for slaughter. He said the Government had made significant progress in containing FMD disease but a few isolated cases remained.
The Deputy Minister said CSC was a major player in the livestock industry in Matabeleland region hence efforts were being put to revitalise its operations.
He said the CSC livestock supply scheme was aimed at restoring the breed of cattle produced in the country to its original state and urged livestock farmers to utilise the opportunity.
CSC chief executive officer Mr Ngoni Chinogaramombe said the scheme was operational in three ranches in the country. He said this year 243 heifers had been distributed to farmers in Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces. A total of 223 cattle were distributed last year under the programme. The programme is targeting A2 farmers and will later on be rolled out to A1 and communal farmers.
Mr Chinogaramombe said the scheme was introduced two years back to improve the breed of cattle produced in the country in preparation for exports. Beneficiary farmers are expected to slaughter their cattle at the CSC abattoir.
“The scheme is all about improving the breed. In order to be able to export we have to ensure that we produce quality beef and this programme will ensure that farmers have better breeds,” he said.
CSC used to be the largest meat processor in Africa, handling up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products a year and exporting beef to the EU, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.