AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, held an official opening ceremony of its Future Farm and Learning Center near Lusaka, Zambia. “We are very pleased to announce the grand opening of our first Future Farm in Africa,” said Rob Smith, AGCO Senior Vice President and General Manager for Europe, Africa and Middle East. “Africa has tremendous growth potential in the agricultural equipment sector and our mission on the African Continent is to provide agricultural solutions for all African farmers. The Future Farm will help to empower local communities to develop a sustainable food production system and to increase farm productivity by implementing modern farming techniques.”
AGCO’s Future Farm vision is to support sustainable food production systems and increase farm output by using agricultural resources more efficiently. The 150-hectare farm is divided into a wide range of demonstration crop areas all cultivated, planted and harvested using AGCO’s full-line of agricultural equipment, and with support from commercial and not for profit partners from across the value chain. Its facilities will include a state-of-the-art Mechanization Learning Center as well as a Grain and Poultry Learning Center, each a first of its kind for Africa. “As Africa’s population is set to rise to two billion by 2050, the need for inclusive, sustainable mechanization and training, and to inspire the next generation to move into agriculture has never been greater,” explains Rob Smith. On AGCO’s Future Farm, those supporting small to medium scale farmers with limited access to modern farming practices will benefit from a range of training courses from basic agronomy, post-harvest solutions and mechanization. Training on best practice for protein production, grain storage and precision farming technologies will target the needs of large-scale commercial farming. “For us, inclusive, sustainable mechanization means designing our products with Africa in mind. It means building our products on the continent and supporting our products and customers locally with parts from our new logistics center in Johannesburg. It means providing local farmers with education in core agricultural practices and training operators, mechanics as well as our local dealers on how to operate, service and maintain agricultural equipment,” adds Rob Smith.
Mechanization is the critical ingredient to raising agricultural productivity in Africa although other constraints are slowing the speed of progress and need to be tackled in parallel. Factors include inadequate access to and use of improved seed, the right blends of fertilizers; the need for favorable trade and land policies; quality post-harvest management solutions and functional markets for harvested crops. “Perhaps one of our greatest achievements to-date in the short time we have been in Zambia is to bring together such an impressive set of Future Farm Partners,” states Nuradin Osman, Director of Operations, Africa and Middle East. “What we are launching in Zambia is about more than just bricks and mortar, it’s about people and partnerships and with the right people and the right partnerships, the possibilities are endless.” Providing employment, training on new skills and increasing incomes, the Future Farm is expected to have a direct impact on the local community.
At the moment, approximately 200 people are living in the community on the farm. The initiative employs 40 workers and, through a 4H enterprise gardens project, around 60 children enjoy gardening classes on the land. In 2015, the cropped areas cover 70 hectares and the crops harvested are maize, soybean, sunn hemp, orange maize, ground nuts, cassava, sorghum, cowpea and sunflower.