ZAMBIA – AGCO, a US based agriculture equipment firm, has said it will make a significant investment towards further development of the Future Farm training facility in Zambia.

Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony on the 150-hectare farm outside of Lusaka, Gary Collar, AGCO senior vice-president and general manager for Asia Pacific and Africa said the initiative seeks to stimulate sustainability in the agriculture sector.

“When we conceptualized the Future Farm, our aim was to be a catalyst in the development of a sustainable and prosperous agricultural industry across the continent, with innovative solutions built around the needs of African farmers.

“To achieve this, we are designing our solutions with Africa in mind and ensuring that we can support our products and customers, locally.”

AGCO launched its first its Future Farm and Learning Center near Lusaka in May 2015 to support sustainable food production systems and increase farm output by using agricultural resources more efficiently.

The company said that upgrades for phase II of the training facility will include the construction of student and staff accommodations and communal amenities to encourage interactive learning.

The phase will also include upgrades to the existing road and farm infrastructure and digitizing the mechanization and agronomy training material.

This is aimed at ensuring ease of accessibility of knowledge by farmers even at the remote regions.

 Nuradin Osman, AGCO vice-president and general manager in Africa, emphasized the significance of AGCO’s Africa strategy to empower the continent’s farmers as global “agri-preneurship” shifts focus to see Africa as the answer to global agricultural expansion and food security.

This is in line with AGCO’s vision for its business operations in Africa to develop and support a sustainable food production system, increase farm productivity by implementing modern farming techniques and develop a range of training courses for farmers, machine operators and dealers.

While a project such as the Future Farm is committed to advancing African farmers to be owners of profitable agribusinesses, AGCO understands that the private sector cannot achieve a sustainable agricultural sector in Africa alone.

There are other constraints slowing the speed of progress in Africa that need to be tackled in parallel with governments.

“African governments must look at agriculture beyond the development agenda, but rather as a profitable industry that can boost the region’s economy,” Osman said.

The Zambia government has identified agriculture as central to its job creation and poverty alleviation strategy as the sector employs over 70% of the population and contributes 19% of the country’s GDP.

The government is engaged in projects aimed at increasing the volume and value of agricultural outputs produced and sold — particularly by small hold farmers.