Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE is expected to reduce tallow and stockfeed import bills by 40 percent once the Cold Storage Company (CSC), which is presently undergoing rehabilitation, starts operating at full capacity at least by April this year.
The country’s largest beef processor and marketer is scheduled to resume operations in April this year after years of closure when plant refurbishment currently underway at the company’s headquarters in Bulawayo has been completed.
Its resumption of operations follows a US$400 million Joint Venture Farming Concession Agreement the Government entered into with a United Kingdom-based investor, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe in 2019.
Under the arrangement, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe has taken over the management of CSC operations under a new name, CSC-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe for an initial period of 25 years.
Speaking in an interview during a tour of the firm’s Bulawayo factory on Monday, CSC-Boustead Beef consultant Mr Reginald Shoko said overall plant upgrade was 85 percent complete, paving way for resumption of operations in April.
He said the anticipated reopening of the giant factory also means that the company will immediately resume tallow production, a critical raw material used in soap production as well as stockfeed using by-products from the slaughtered beasts.
“A cow has 16 by-products of which one of the critical by-products from cattle that companies in soap manufacturing are importing at the moment is tallow.
“The companies are importing it because we are not producing it and there is no any other company locally that produce it,” he said.
“But believe you me, when we start producing tallow and operating at full capacity, we will drastically reduce tallow import bill by over 40 percent and between 30 percent and 40 percent for stockfeed import bill,” said Mr Shoko.
Currently, the country’s soap manufacturing sector is largely dominated by three big giants namely Bulawayo-based agro-industrial concern, United Refineries Limited (URL), Pure Oil and Raha.
“At its peak, CSC was able to produce tallow that was sustainable to the local market. The local market was not importing tallow and during that time, I think they were only three companies such as Lever Brothers and United Refineries that were coming here for tallow.
“But still as we reopen, what we will immediately do, our production of tallow means will reduce Zimbabwe’s tallow import bill in terms of the foreign currency that we are currently spending,” said Mr Shoko.
In a separate interview, URL chief executive officer Mr Busisa Moyo who is also the Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe chairman said his company alone was presently importing 300 tonnes of tallow per month.
“As a company, we are importing 300 000 kilogrammes of tallow per month and talking of other large companies, I wouldn’t know how much their requirements for tallow are,” he said.
The resuscitation of the Bulawayo plant has largely been delayed by the Covid-19 induced national lockdowns as the investor would not import the critical spares to facilitate the rehabilitation project.
At its peak in the 1990s, the company that owns four abattoirs in the country used to employ 1 500 permanent workers and about 700 casual employees, thereby making it one of Zimbabwe’s biggest employers.
It is hoped that as capacity utilisation and throughput improve after resumption of operations, workforce figures will gradually improve starting with about 150 former CSC employees on condition of good health and ability.
An additional figure of between 50 and 100 people will also be recruited as the company resume operations and its peak levels will be reached or surpassed as production rises going forward. — @KazungaOliver.
Article Source: The Chronicle