This is happening at a time when the company is investing US$14, 5 million for the next eight years on a milk and dairy project, Kumbirai Katsande, Managing Director has confirmed.
“The project is going on fine and we have now roped in farmers from the rural areas,” he said in an exclusive interview in Harare.
“But we have that minister (Kasukuwere) who has once again threatened to take our company over using political reasons for indigenisation. Now investors are worried and the project could go at a slower pace.”
The US$14, 5 million project will be carried out for the next eight years and will include, among other things, importing 4 000 dairy cows from South Africa to boost the company’s dwindling herd.
Zimbabwe’s national dairy herd has dwindled since the introduction of the controversial Land Resettlement Programme (LRS) in 2000 by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
“This will be part of our Corporate Social Responsibility Programme (CSR),” a senior manager at Nestle said in Harare recently.
“The programme will include dealing with our management skills, breeding cows well, as well as a rural development programme where we will import 4 000 dairy cows from South Africa to boost our herd in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe is actually not a dairy country but South Africa and Kenya because of the type of soil that we have here. We actually should not be having a local dairy industry in this country.”
He said Nestle would involve several partners in the ambitious programme such as ARDA by using its Training Centre, the Ministry of Local Government for involving chiefs, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), and the National Association of Dairy Farmers (NADF) which is the commercial farming section of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU).
The ZFU represents the country’s small-scale farmers who are mostly black and come from the rural and communal areas.
Nestle ran into problems with President Robert Mugabe when it refused to buy milk from his Gushungo Holdings (Private) Limited dairy farm.
The company was banned from operating in Zimbabwe but was later allowed to re-open and continue with operations.
It is a major competitor to Dairibord Holdings Zimbabwe Limited (DHZL) which is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).
DHZL is among the blue chip counters on the ZSE today led by Anthony Mandiwanza, a top commercial farmer.