The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Business Correspondent
THE Bulawayo Beef Canning Co-operative (BBCC) is seeking to raise US$1million in a bid to intensify efforts to revive the cattle industry in the Matabeleland region.
BBCC, which was formed last year but only got registered in February, is aiming at playing a major role in livestock restocking efforts, as a way of contributing to economic revival of the region.
Co-operative management committee chairman Mr Sanpolous Maplanka said they realised the vast potential that cattle have in changing the economy of Matabeleland through synergies and downstream industries.
He said while their main focus would be on the canning factory, they would also ensure other industries around cattle ranching are revived.
“Matabeleland is a ranching region and cattle have done generally well over the years so we did not want to re-invent the wheel and decided to tap into what the region can do and start a beef canning factory.
“However, it will not just be about beef canning but will have an endeavour to create upstream and downstream industries that use cattle by-products. This means we will open butcheries, keep cattle, aid farmers, work with leather producing firms and also open abattoirs.
“The canning factory will have a meat processing plant allowing us to produce other end products such as sausages, cold meat and polony among others,” he said.
Mr Maplanka revealed they are aiming at empowering local people through enabling them to be part of the co-operative by joining and buying shares.
He said they already have 113 fully paid up members with 600 applications being vetted. He said membership is pegged at US$10 and monthly subscriptions of $12 with members being eligible to buy shares at US$2 per share and a minimum of 50 shares.
Mr Maplanka said they have identified three farms which they are considering buying to begin the first phase of setting up a ranch.
He said they also intend to open a butchery in Bulawayo in two months.
“It is critical that we empower farmers to ensure they get full value of their cattle and not cede some of their income to middlemen.
“Currently a farmer has to sell his cattle to a middleman who then goes on to sell it at an abattoir in Bulawayo but with our set up we will buy directly from the farmers and the cattle are slaughtered at a local abattoir that we would have set up and then move them to one of our butcheries.
“Farmers will also have the opportunity to join the co-operative and the advantage would be that they will benefit from veterinary services that we will set up including a research programme for genetic improvement that would be introduced,” he said.
Mr Maplanka said they realised that the best way to run the entity would be through a co-operative to allow people to own part of the venture and earn proceeds from profits made.
He said they have already attracted interest from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
“We want to feed into the 2030 Vision of Zimbabwe becoming a middle-income economy as pronounced by the President and we realised the best way to do so is to pool our financial resources.
“I cannot do it alone, neither can someone do it alone but if we pool our funds we can create jobs and realise our dreams. Any company sells shares so that a lot of people put in their cash to be used to pursue their objectives.
“I believe this is an option that we should consider in efforts to revive our economy. Instead of seeking foreign direct investment let’s pool the little that we have and build companies,” he said.