ED agriculture revolution: Beef industry key
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has of late focused its thrust on agriculture, hoping the country will have plenty of rains this season that will result in food self-sufficiency, saving the nation millions of dollars in food imports.
Agriculture is also expected to play a critical role in the revival of an economy that has been flagging for decades.
One of the most critical aspects of agriculture that need revival is livestock farming. With livestock farming revival, the country needs to resuscitate the Cold Storage Company (CSC), which would result in the recovery of the beef
Recently, Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka said the government was seriously considering placing the company under reconstruction in a bid to bring the entity back on its feet as it is taking too long to resuscitate it.
The reconstruction model allows the company to recover outside of the risk of litigation by various creditors.
This is despite the fact that CSC secured an investor in November 2018 from the United Kingdom, Boustead Beef, to revive it and help clear an outstanding US$36 million debt, but this process seems to be taking too long.
Revival of the beef industry should be one of the key objectives of our government. During the peak of the beef industry, Zimbabwe used to realise US$100 million annually from exports to the European Union and other markets abroad.
The country used to produce top quality beef and there is optimism that if it puts the fundamentals in place, Zimbabwe could soon return to the old glory days. As part of the revival programme, we need to increase the national herd from the estimated 5,7 million cattle to over eight million. It is said that beef slaughters have gone down to 200 000 from 605 000 in 2000.
We are glad that Masuka recognised the need for a properly functioning CSC and that the government has decided to put the company under reconstruction to allow for its revival without being haunted by creditors.
It is our hope that the CSC infrastructure will not be left to deteriorate further as was the situation at Marondera and Kadoma abattoirs in recent years.
CSC has to be functional as the country revives livestock farming, and in particular the beef industry. We need to regain the European Union quota as Zimbabwe continues on its engagement and re-engagement exercise.