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Chisamba, Zambia, 2014/02/24 - “Agriculture holds the key to transforming the prosperity of many African countries, where agriculture and farming drives the local economy,” says Nuradin Osman, Director of Operations at AGCO Africa and Middle East.
The global agri-giant is the exclusive diamond sponsor at the upcoming Agritech Expo at GART in Chisamba from 4-5 April, at what is Zambia’s first and only outdoor agricultural exhibition.
Says Mr Osman: “in some cases, agriculture currently accounts for up to 50% of GDP and accounts for up to 60% of employment. But African agriculture is badly under-performing and failing to take full advantage of the available natural resources of land, water, and labour. There is also a serious lack of investment in modern seed and fertiliser, while few farms employ the latest agronomic advice or mechanisation. Together this is causing productivity to lag far behind advances being made in other developing countries.”
15 new products for African farmers
According to Nuradin Osman, AGCO in Africa is focusing on increasing the scope of its product offering, localisation, capacity building, improving distribution, and providing training to local farmers.
He continues: “AGCO plans to introduce up to 15 new products for African farmers including planters, harvesters and storage units. This will be a mix of new products designed for African conditions, such as air seeders, heavy disc implements, and poultry/protein products; and currently existing products being made more widely available across African markets. Also, AGCO does not only have commercial ventures in Africa, it is also on the forefront in initiatives aimed at developing agriculture beyond the pure mechanisation.”
Strategic steps to support African agri
Since 2012, according to the AGCO Director of Operations for Africa, the company has taken strategic steps to support agriculture on the continent, including:
• Building a new parts distribution centre in Johannesburg to better serve customers in Sub-Saharan Africa and opened a regional office in Cape Town.
• Acquiring a farm close to Lusaka, Zambia, to establish a Learning Centre and Future Farm that will allow local farmers and dealers to be trained on modern farming technology and learn about the latest farming practices. Farmers will benefit from a wide range of training classes and get access to professional farming equipment.
• Establishing a joint venture operation with local partners in Algeria to manufacture tractors for the African market.
Look no further than Zambia to invest
AGCO is upbeat about the future of farming in Zambia. Says Mr Osman: “any international company looking to invest and work in Africa need look no further than Zambia. Zambia provides economic dynamism, with an average of 7% economic growth over the last few years, even in the midst of a turbulent world economic recession.”
He adds: “there are opportunities for the willing entrepreneur across the whole food value chain, and there will be no lack of support and encouragement. Agriculture remains the main source of income and employment for the majority of Zambians; and Zambia has not realized its maximum agriculture potential due to limited investments not only in the production stage, but also in high value agro-processing.”
The Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is also a key partner in Agritech Expo which is expected to draw more than 6500 small, medium and large scale farmers, suppliers, manufacturers, retails, agents and service providers in April.
Event dates and location:
Expo: 4-5 April 2014
Conference: 4 April 2014
Location: GART Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia
Agritech Expo is organised by leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, Spintelligent Pty.