By Oliver Kazunga
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Development Minister, Retired Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, yesterday opened up on the $130 million Cold Storage Company (CSC) joint venture recapitalisation deal, which is expected to rejuvenate operations at the firm.
The deal with a United Kingdom headquartered firm, Boustead Beef, is among the 12 top investment projects that were given the greenlight for implementation by Cabinet last week.
Minister Shiri said the agreement would see the investor utilising CSC assets over a specified number of years.
The Bulawayo-headquartered firm is one of the strategic State enterprises earmarked for speedy recovery under the parastatal reform initiative being implemented by the new political dispensation.
“Under the joint venture agreement, the company (Boustead Beef) will be using CSC assets and part of the agreement will see the investor refurbishing CSC abattoirs,” said Rtd Air Marshal Shiri.
“The farms, abattoirs and all those assets will remain CSC property and come end of the arrangement, CSC will remain with all its assets.”
He, however, could not be drawn to disclose the tenure of deal. Last week, Government revealed that Cabinet had approved the implementation of 11 investment projects worth $5,3 billion from various sectors including the CSC/Boustead Beef $130 million joint venture arrangement.
Minister Shiri said the UK headquartered entity was also expected to commence the project soon, utilising CSC infrastructure dotted across the country. The parastatal owns abattoirs in Bulawayo, Masvingo and Chinhoyi.
“And they are also expected to bring in some breeding stock (heifers) from a neighbouring country. I’m not sure where exactly as it will be a business decision for them to make,” said Minister Shiri.
The joint venture agreement is also expected to go a long way in boosting the size of the breeding stock as well as creating employment directly and indirectly in the downstream industry as local farmers will also be engaged for contract farming arrangements.
This will also be a complementary role to the $300 million Command Livestock Programme, which was launched by the Government in February this year.
“Any time from now we expect to see them on the ground,” said Minister Shiri.
CSC was established in 1937 in terms of the Cold Storage Commission Act with the mandate of procuring, processing and marketing beef, lamb, goat and related products.
Government is the sole shareholder in the company. The firm was commercialised in 1995 and also owns canning and tannery subsidiaries, all located in Bulawayo.
The rejuvenation of CSC will add impetus to the economy through beef exports by unlocking value in the livestock industry.
At its peak, the State entity handled 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 annually. The Chronicle