President hails relaunch of Cold Storage Company
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa said the revival of the Cold Storage Company (CSC) is critical in the country’s agricultural value chain and would further contribute to the expansion of the national herd and the revival of the leather and allied industries. CSC resumed operations two weeks ago at its giant beef processing plant in Bulawayo after 22 years of closure. The company is being relaunched under a $400 million joint venture agricultural concession agreement with Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, a UK-based investor.
So far, $24 million has been pumped into the business with the goal of slaughtering 1,500 animals a day instead of 60 a day. The government swore that CSC would not collapse again. As part of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, SCC is expected to contribute to the growth of the livestock sub-sector to US$1.9 billion by 2025 from US$900 million.
Writing in his weekly column published on Sunday, President Mnangagwa said reviving CSC was strategic. “I am happy that the CSC, long inactive, is now ready to resume its place in the whole agricultural matrix. With this recovery must be the resurrection of our leather and allied products industry for which we were once famous,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Above all, our big plans to grow alfalfa and produce competitive feed for livestock need to accelerate. This will allow us to increase and improve our national herd, including in the communal areas where the largest herd is located.
Global geopolitics has exacerbated the need for the country to achieve national food self-sufficiency. President Mnangagwa said that to boost food production, his government was implementing climate-proof methods such as the Intwasa/Pfumvudza program and increasing the distribution of inputs to communal farmers. .
He stressed the need to stabilize agricultural finance and marketing and modernize the sector through mechanization, science and more intensive agricultural extension support. “Thanks to these far-reaching interventions, we were able to achieve a national surplus in a short period of just two seasons, peaking in the 2020/21 season.
“Thanks to this progress, we were able to mitigate the adverse effects of the 2021/22 season, which was affected by the mid-season drought,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the nation must learn hard lessons from the fluctuating performance of the agricultural sector in order to move forward with more certainty and predictability. “Weather-induced variations in our agricultural performance and grain production show that more needs to be done to protect this sector from the climate for sustainable national food security,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the Second Republic would thus continue to build more lakes and dams while establishing modern irrigation systems tied to water bodies, as rain-fed agriculture was no longer reliable. He reiterated the need to improve cereal productivity, which remains very low. “Although our total cereal production often exceeds our national needs, I fear that on closer inspection, productivity remains low. Our farmers and the entire agricultural society must be challenged to go beyond the overall goal of national food self-sufficiency,” the president said.
“Now we need to start increasing efficiency at all levels, so we are increasingly working with productivity targets targeted at farmers and farms. When I look at our production per hectare, or the input-output ratio, both compared to the major food producers in our region and the world, we still have a lot to do.
“It gives us a new direction, both as individual farmers and as an industry. There are many inefficiencies belied by a positive overall domestic production.
The President said there was a need to take stock of the investment that is being put into the agricultural sector versus the production of it and challenged farmers to increase wheat production to meet the national needs. we are thus compensating for the disturbances linked to the conflict in Eastern Europe. I am told that we have managed to put about 80,000 hectares under wheat cultivation. The expected production is around 420,000 tonnes, 20,000 tonnes more than our national needs. This is very commendable,” President Mnangagwa said.
He said Zimbabwe should target the export of agricultural products in response to existing opportunities in global markets.
President Mnangagwa said the country must be a key part of this African agricultural century, which is at the heart of the continental Agenda 2063 aimed at ensuring food security. “I am happy that our economy is changing rapidly to make the necessary supporting investments, including in the production of more fertilizers. Now may be the time for us to couple our agricultural sector to global demand”, a- he declared.
“This requires proper reading and forecasting of global markets, so that our crop mix and our repertoire of agricultural activities respond in a timely manner to the demands of the global market. We already do that for tobacco. This discipline must now expand to cover all areas of agricultural activity.