Rhodesian Wattle Co. Ltd.

Rhodesian Wattle Co. Ltd.

Umtali

In the early 1940’s the Forestal Lands and Railway Co. Ltd. of London (one of the world’s largest producer of tanning products at the time), through its subsidiary the Natal Tanning Extract Company, made the first moves to buy land for tree-planting on a commercial scale in Melsetter.

In 1944 representatives of the Natal Company spent some time inspecting the district, being driven round and accommodated by local farmers. They decided to buy land, and the Rhodesian Wattle Co. Ltd. was formed in 1945, with Head Office in Umtali.

The Wattle Company started intensive development of their properties and wattle trees were planted on a large scale. They offered private growers a 15-year agreement, guaranteeing a minimum buying price and a premium above this in direct ratio to selling price for wattle extract in world markets, and some private growers planted wattle with varying degrees of success, as the price did not keep up to the level of expectations. In 1946-47 there was an acceleration of wattle growths in the north-eastern region of Southern Rhodesia.

By 1958, the company managed over 60,000 acres through several estates. Through the purchase of property, the company increased land value in Melsetter. In addition to this, it also helped Melsetter with its main road, as the company was promised that a fully-tarred road would be ready for the heavy transport which would operate when the wattle extract was ready for export.

The company continues to trade today as the Wattle Company Limited. They are one of the largest kiln dried all round timber in Zimbabwe. They also produce highly sought treated poles for fencing, telephone and transmission poles. The company also produces three types of wattle extract namely Solid Mimosa Tannin, Green Special Powder and Ordinary Powder. Charcoal is also one of the products the company produces which expresses its true qualities of long burning, more heat and less smoke. Its products service both the local and export markets.

Reference

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  • James Gavin
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