ZIMBABWE’S beef industry revival depends on the full resuscitation of the Cold Storage Company (CSC), Paddy Zhanda, the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation deputy minister said yesterday.
Zhanda appealed to players in the beef industry to assist the government with ideas on how to revive CSC.
The deputy minister was responding to a question from a delegate attending a food, agriculture and livestock production workshop held at a local hotel yesterday over the benefits of reviving CSC.
“The revival of CSC is a mammoth task and any suggestions on how best we could move forward to revive it will be greatly appreciated.
“We cannot write off CSC because it acts as a catalyst in the scheme of things as far as the marketing of the country’s beef industry is concerned. It is a national asset and key to our beef industry,” Zhanda said.
CSC is a shadow of its past when it used to play a leading role in the processing and marketing of the country’s beef. The viability of the parastatal took a severe beating when the European Union suspended beef imports from the country in 2001 following a foot and mouth disease outbreak.
At its peak, the company had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef to the EU and a revolving $15 million payment facility with the block under which it was paid in advance.
Experts say despite the suspension of beef imports, corruption and mismanagement are also to blame for the CSC collapse.
Zhanda said the CSC collapse could also be blamed on a move by the government to allow private abattoir players into the industry, saying the company failed to survive the competition.
“We made a mistake at the beginning by allowing private players to build their own abattoirs instead of saying farmers should only utilise CSC abattoirs. We should instead have incorporated the private players into the CSC scheme of things than to allow them to compete against the parastatal,” he said.
The company that used to earn the country at least $45 million annually fluffed a 2011 deal with the Botswana government aimed at resuscitation.
The CSC failed to remit funds realised from cattle sales under the agreement, resulting in its collapse.