TANYARADZWA NHARI/ JULIA NDLELA
THE Cold Storage Company (CSC)- Boustead Beef Zimbabwe’s quest to revive the country’s former meat processor is on course with the rehabilitation exercise now at 85% at its Bulawayo plant.
The latest development was despite the effects of Covi-19 which delayed the importation of some critical re-tooling equipment.
It was initially expected that the firm was going to resume operations before December 2021.
At its peak, CSC used to be the largest integrated meat processing entity in Africa with lucrative markets in Europe but over the past decades, the firm became moribund due to mismanagement and corruption, prompting the government to enter a partnership with a United Kingdom-based investor.
Boustead Beef, the UK investor entered a 25-year joint venture agreement with the government in January 2019 to facilitate the revival of the company under a US$400m deal.
The company was recently put under a corporate rescue scheme now led by Bulawayo lawyer Vonani Majoko.
Boustead however is working on a rehabilitation plan, with effort focused on reviving the national herd and the firm’s key infrastructure in Masvingo and Chinhoyi.
CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe interim chief executive Reginald Shoko this week told the Independent that the rehabilitation exercise was on course.
“The rehabilitation process has been going on well with the current efforts now at 85%. The plan is to bring the Bulawayo plant back to its original capacity.”
Part of the rehabilitation exercise entails acquiring additional equipment and upgrading obsolete machinery.
CSC ground to a halt in the early 2000s and suspended exports to the European Union (EU) at the height of a devastating foot and mouth outbreak.
“The by-products plant which has components that last worked in the year 2000 has been rehabilitated now; the process is 80% done awaiting a few parts before being put on test run.
“We repaired the boiler and passed it to the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) for Inspection.
We are now doing final touches on their recommendations before commissioning,” Shoko said.
He noted that the investor has since installed four compressors which are now functional and awaiting commissioning, while cold room repairs are at various stages.
The old Bulawayo plant was expensive in terms of the electrical bill which ranged between US$35 000 to US$40 000 monthly.
The investor therefore decided to move the idle Mutare plant to Bulawayo which is likely going to reduce the bill to US$10 000.
“CSC moved the Mutare plant to Bulawayo which is smaller and unable to service the entire cold chain hence the focus was third party slaughter without harvesting the by-products of cattle which the Bulawayo plant is able to.”
The company is also working on a 25MW solar plant for Bulawayo to ensure adequate power for production, with excess output feeding into the national grid.
“This is also our carbon credit rating scheme as you might know that in the coming months some markets won’t be accepting beef without carbon credit as a way of fighting global warming,” Shoko said.
CSC’s tannery has upgraded from producing wet blue leather to finished hides.
The leather unit is producing furniture, travel goods, belts and both domestic and commercial upholstery.
Due to the size of production, CSC so far has over 100 employees looking at administration, tannery, engineering and ranches.
“On the Bulawayo plant we have over 120 workers involved in the rehabilitation process, but as soon as we start operations some employees will join,” Shoko said.
CSC’s Dubane and Maphaneni ranches are in full production with livestock at various stages of development.
The ranches in question have the capacity to supply the Bulawayo plant at start-up production for a few months and there is also some development happening on sections of Winter Block ranch through partnerships with farmers.
“We are working with a number of communal farmers through various livestock development projects.
We are bringing bulls to improve the national livestock genetics. The canning plant is being rehabilitated as well as the small abattoir,” Shoko noted.
CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe has already secured and signed orders for new markets.