Speaking at the AGRF thematic working group meeting on mechanisation, Mark Moore, agricultural advisory manager of AGCO, outlined a new 18-month collaborative project the company is leading for alliance for a green revolution for Africa (AGRA). The project is set to examine the agricultural mechanisation of Sub-Saharan African smallholders and the development of local farm service centres known as agro-dealers.
Moore said that the project was started in July 2017, aiming to assess the affordability of mechanisation systems along with farming practices such as conservation agriculture for smallholders and develop and evaluate the agro-dealer approach for supporting and training smallholders.
The AGCO has partnered with Harper Adams University in the UK, FutureSeeds Zambia and the University of Zambia for this project.
Speaking to the press, Nuradin Osman, vice-president and general manager at AGCO in Africa, said, “The transformation of on-farm mechanisation can make a major contribution to improving rural livelihoods by boosting productivity and growth in rural incomes and making farming an appealing and worthwhile career choice for young people.”
“The implementation of modern farming techniques and the more efficient use of resources empower communities to develop a sustainable food production system and increase farm productivity, thus improving local economies, helping to create jobs and inspiring the next generation to move into agriculture,” Osman explained.
The major work on the initiative will take place at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka. This 150 ha farm includes a mechanisation training centre and poultry learning centre and aims to appear as a hub for developing leading-edge agriculture for Africa.
“We will be trialling a model to establish the levels of income a smallholder farmer needs to achieve to pay for mechanisation services like crop establishment. We will also trial a similar model to understand the income a local agro-dealer needs to generate in order to supply and support local smallholder farmers in their area with services like tillage and planting contract work and the supply of farm inputs,” said Moore.
“The aim is to ensure that they and the local agro-dealer supporting them both have sustainable businesses,” he explained.