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July 26, 2008

Zimbabwe to rebuild depleted cattle herd

Zimbabwe's Cold Storage Company (CSC) is offering cattle breeders tenders to rent grazing farms as the parastatal moves towards rebuilding the national herd, it has been learnt.

CSC is offering farmers, with capacity to maintain the farms, space at Winterblock in Nyamandlovu, Maphaneni in Kezi, Dubane in Gwanda, Mushandike in Masvingo, Darwendale in Harare and Chivumburu in Mwenezi.

“The lease period is negotiable between the CSC and the farmer,” said Ms Patience Madambi, CSC public relations officer. She said CSC would offer these tenders to farmers with the capacity to maintain the farms.

“First and foremost, the tender is for farmers with breeding stock. Those who expect to be considered for the tender must have the capacity to maintain fencing, fire guards and any other equipment and tools lent to him or her during the contract period,” she said.

Early this year, the CSC board chairman, Professor Lindile Ndlovu, announced that the company was set to embark on a massive restocking exercise aimed at increasing its yearly livestock slaughtering to about 30 000 beasts. The leasing of farms is part of the steps to build that capacity.

Ms Madambi said under the programme CSC would also consider offering expert advise to the farmers. “The farmer will be expected to have adequate manpower as well as the technical capacity to manage his or her own herd. Naturally the number of cattle the farmer has will determine the amount of grazing area he will be entitled to,” she said.

The long-term benefits to CSC for this arrangement are that the company expects to receive payment in the form of calves. “The CSC will expect to receive payment in the form of progeny or calves in exchange for grazing. May l stress that the CSC is only accepting breeding stock from which it expects to harvest at least 20 percent on an annual basis,” she said. She said farmers were, however, welcome to improve on the 20 percent in their bids.

CSC has over the years- and in particular during drought periods, offered grazing at its ranches for a minimal fee.

The company is the country’s sole authorized beef procurer, processor and marketing company with five state of the art abattoirs. It also boasts of three selling and distribution centres in one meat canning plant in Bulawayo.

Ms Madambi said taking up tenders at the farms had over the years benefited farmers in that their animals graze within a secured environment, which had all the basic requirements that include safe drinking water, and should it be required, expert guidance from CSC’s resident ranch managers.

“Over the years and as part of its mandate, the CSC has managed to offer its facilities in order to prevent farmers from losing their animals during drought spells,” she said. Madambi said this facility by CSC was available to all cattle producers who had a long-term vision to increase not only their personal wealth and credibility as serious cattle farmers, but also had a dedication towards increasing the national cattle herd through breeding.

In the past years, as a result of the dwindling national herd, CSC has been struggling to find cattle to slaughter. The company has engaged in efforts to encourage rural communities to bring forward their livestock for slaughter. 80 percent of CSC’s supplies come from rural farmers.

Last year government availed money to the company to increase capacity utilization and ensure that the company meets demand for beef. The company has turned to the Far East, clinching export deals in Hong Kong, in search of new markets in order to raise forex to stay afloat.

Sunday News

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