Dumisani Nsingo , Senior Business Reporter
COLD Storage Company (CSC)-Boustead Beef Zimbabwe has entered into a strategic partnership with Econet’s subsidiary, Distributed Power Africa (DPA), which will see all of the country’s meat processor and marketer’s assets being solar powered.
CSC Boustead Beef managing director Mr Nick Havercroft told Sunday News Business last week that the company had entered into an agreement which would see all its abattoirs and ranches dotted around the country being solar powered.
Work on the solar project started two weeks ago at the company’s headquarters in Bulawayo where a three megawatt (MW) plant is being set up at a cost of about $9 million.
“We are going to construct a 3MW solar power plant here (Bulawayo).
We are constructing it in partnership with Econet’s DPA . . . we have enough ground here and can build a much bigger power plant.
We need about 2MW but we are putting in 3MW. Our boilers are going to be solar powered, not coal powered as before. So the whole company now has full green credentials, renewable energy.
We have finished all our due diligence engineering now.
It’s a very large investment because we are doing every facility . . . in all of them we are going to be putting in solar and we are bringing in about 35 compressors and we are speeding up our roll out which will be Bulawayo first then Masvingo,” said Mr Havercroft.
CSC Boustead Beef has other branches in Harare, Chinhoyi and Marondera.
Mr Havercroft said the solar project would also be extended to all the company’s ranches where it intends to set up fodder banks and feedlots.
“We are also taking it (solar project) out to the rural communal areas.
We are going to be drilling solar-powered boreholes and put up irrigated pastures for the communal areas so that farmers bring their cattle to the water.
We will also be growing the food and establishing feedlots throughout the country because we can’t do cattle in a traditional manner.
Climate change has changed farming everywhere in the world. We used to get a drought every seven years but now we are getting drought every three years,” he said.
A pilot project has already started in earnest with the installation of a solar-powered borehole at one of the company’s ranches, Winter Block in Umguza District, Matabeleland North Province and it is proving to be a success.
“We equipped one of the boreholes at Winter Block ranch in Umguza a week ago. That’s the first time they had a reliable source of water there in about 15 to 20 years.
The communal farmers brought about 1 500 head of cattle to the watering point, which goes to prove that our concept is right . . . so with our strategic partnership we will be rolling this out throughout the country and with the farmers bringing in their cattle to our solar-powered boreholes.
We are going to be growing the pastures and cutting the food for the feedlot,” said Mr Havercroft.
He said the concept of setting up fodder banks and feedlots would go a long way towards improving the quality of the country’s cattle.
“We are going to be growing the pastures and cutting the food for the feedlots so that when the farmers bring their cattle we feed them.
So instead of selling us an animal during drought at 200kgs, which means it’s more of skin and bones the animal puts on weight and becomes 300kgs and then they deliver it to CSC and the farmer gets more money, we get better quality beef and the country gets more exports,” said Mr Havercroft.
He said CSC-Boustead Beef would thrive to venture into strategic partnership as the revival of the company requires massive capital injection.
“We can’t do this business by ourselves. It’s too big, we have to have partners,” said Mr Havercroft.
He said through its partnership arrangement the company made delivery of more than 2 000 pedigree cattle from South Africa three weeks, which have been since distributed at its ranches in Dubane, Maphaneni and Darwendale.
Mr Havercroft said the fact that the company was located within an area designated as a Special Economic Zone was enough impetus to expedite its revival.
“Our equipment is coming under SEZ. SEZs are a great incentive for investors who come in here. It dissolves a lot of problems and it’s a good incentive for other investors to follow us.
“Once you create something special and the word gets out there people come to find out and how you did it that’s what is happening to us.
Now we have people coming to us asking us how they can invest into CSC,” he said.
Mr Havercroft said Boustead Beef which affirmed massive capital injection of US$400 million into CSC this year has already spent about $2 million towards refurbishment of infrastructure in Bulawayo with most of it being channelled in engineering works.