Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Cold Storage Company (CSC) has engaged senior experts from the Netherlands to assist the firm in developing a comprehensive leather value chain strategy that will promote value addition of leather and associated by-products.
The State-owned meat processor and marketer, which had become dormant for 15 years, has secured a US$400 million lifeline after Government and a United Kingdom investor Boustead Beef (Pvt) Ltd signed a joint venture agreement to resuscitate the parastatal and is set to re-open before the end of the year. The US$400 million capital injection will be spread over the next three to four years.
In an interview yesterday, CSC Boustead Beef Zimbabwe senior executive Mr Isaiah Machingura said senior executives from PUM, a Netherlands-based volunteer organisation that offers practical expertise within the most critical sectors of the economy for sustainable development, were at CSC headquarters recently on a fact finding mission.
“We have engaged senior experts from an organisation called PUM so that they assist us in developing the leather value chain,” said Mr Machingura.
“They are going to assist us as we process the leather because we are also going to link with livestock farmers including small-holder farmers as the quality of leather starts with the farmers as well.
“We have actually housed them (PUM senior experts) here (CSC headquarters in Bulawayo) and we are going to work with them on the wet blue side and also as we produce the hides directly working with the small-holder livestock farmers.”
He said the PUM team got all the information they needed and when they return they will make sure that work commences on set strategies.
“Farmers need to be educated on how to produce good quality leather through good animal husbandry and with the help of PUM this will be achievable,” said Mr Machingura.
He said his organisation has also made significant headway in resuscitating their tannery, Wetblue Industries, as well as taking it out of judicial management.
Wetblue Industries was placed under judicial management by the High Court in Bulawayo in September 2014 after the business went down following the demise of CSC.
“Regarding coming out of judicial management of Wetblue Industries, the ball has started rolling and all what we are waiting for at the moment is for the judicial company to actually clear the legal issues with the courts. So they are busy trying to clear with the High Court so that at least all the employees there come back to CSC-Boustead Beef,” said Mr Machingura.
Before its demise, CSC used to export beef and other associated by products such as processed hides across the world including European countries. At its peak, the parastatal used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products per year and exported to the European Union an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef.
Meanwhile, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe has embarked on a massive rehabilitation of infrastructure at its CSC ranches across the country as it prepares to resume full swing operations at the Bulawayo abattoirs before the end of the year.
The investor has also invested in state-of-the-art equipment as it seeks to bring the meat processor and marketer back to its feet.
More than US$100 million will be utilised under the first phase of the project’s revival, which also covers procurement of state of the art equipment for the abattoirs and Wetblue Industries.