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AGCO calls for a new vision for agriculture in Africa

AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, has held its first ever AGCO Africa Summit in Berlin

The Summit is a joint initiative of AGCO, Bayer CropScience and DEG – Deutsche Investitions – und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH.

“With its population poised to double in the next 20 years, it is a global responsibility to develop a new vision for agriculture in Africa,” said Martin Richenhagen, chairman, president and chief executive officer, at the opening press conference.

“Our objective is to promote international dialogue to encourage global businesses to invest in the future of Africa.”

Africa lies at the heart of what promises to be a new Agricultural Revolution.

The solution is to develop a systematic approach that develops a strategic partnership to deliver crops that feed increasing populations in an economically, environmentally and socially responsible way.

While the challenge is enormous, the opportunities are both substantial and achievable. Farmers are among the main beneficiaries of agricultural development and are at the very core of the solution.

But there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. A lack of infrastructure, mechanisation and technology across the continent calls for market-based co-operation between farmers, private industry, government and society to establish a new blueprint.

Africa holds the key to ensuring a sustainable food supply, but only if a new roadmap for progress is developed, harnessing both the expertise of the private industry sector and the knowledge of local communities.

The goal of the AGCO Africa Summit was to raise awareness for the needs of the African continent and to discuss the challenges of agriculture with regard to the world food supply problem, declining arable land base and population growth.

Guest speakers included Thabo Mbeki (former President of South Africa), Prof Dr Horst Köhler (former Federal President of Germany), Dirk Niebel (Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany), and Ilse Aigner (Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Germany).

Participants at the AGCO Africa Summit discussed the many ways that agricultural mechanisation could secure better futures and how improved cultivation methods could increase yields significantly.

Higher productivity and efficiency would in turn help African countries become less dependent on imported crops, creating better food security.

“Large areas across Africa have suitable soil and climate for successful agriculture, but many areas are not yet cultivated or are not productive enough,” explained Richenhagen.

“With 11 per cent of the world’s arable land (86 per cent of which is uncultivated), Africa would benefit from modern, mechanised farming techniques.”

To continue reading this article, please see the March/April 2012 issue of African Farming