By Bulawayo Correspondents
ACTING President Constantino Chiwenga Thursday officially re-opened the Boustead Beef Cold Storage Company plant in Bulawayo.
The plant was closed 22 years ago when the then Cold Storage Company (CSC) folded due to viability challenges.
In a bid to revamp the country ‘s once largest meat processor and marketer, the government in 2019 signed a US$400 million Joint Venture Farming Concession Agreement with Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, a United Kingdom-based investor.
Under the arrangement, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe took over, and will now manage CSC ranches for an initial period of 25 year.
Speaking at the official opening event, Chiwenga hailed the new plant as “a key component in the beef production value chain,”
“May I hasten to state that this event is a crucial indicator of the private sector resolve to stimulate growth of the livestock sub-sector by providing a steady market for slaughter stock for our livestock farmers,” said Chiwenga.
“It is worth to note that over 90 % of livestock is owned by small holder farmers who provide 85 percent of the slaughter stock. Hence, the importance of Boustead Beef Cold Storage Company in the marketing of livestock cannot be over emphasised.”
The acting president said the new plant would also assist smallholder farmers to get value for their herd.
“In this regard it (the plant) provides a competitive market for the smallholder livestock farmers, who have suffered large losses through middlemen and other unscrupulous buyers. The goal of government is to develop the livestock sub- sector as a whole,” he said.
When fully operational, the company intends to grow the cattle slaughter to about 1 500 cattle a day.
“I am advised that Boustead Beef Cold Storage company intends to grow the cattle slaughter to about 1 500 cattle a day at full operational capacity with the majority of the animals coming from the small livestock farmers, who contribute about 90 % of the slaughter stock.
“I am also reliably informed that to date US$24 million has been invested to resuscitate the Cold Storage Company, which has been idle for the past 22 years.”
The company will also start exporting beef to the rest of the world.
Similar plants would be also revamped in Masvingo , Marondera and Chinhoyi.
At its peak in the 1990s, the company that owns various abattoirs, used to employ 1 500 permanent workers and about 700 casual employees, thereby making it one of the country’s biggest employers.