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Agriculture accounts for about 60 per cent of Africa's active labour force, contributes 17 per cent of the continent's total gross domestic product and accounts for 40 per cent of its foreign currency earnings
Given that the continent possesses 733 million hectares of arable land, agricultural development is one of the most effective strategies for boosting economic growth. In the last couple of decades, only few countries – mainly in the southern and northern Africa – have been able to overcome the challenges in the development of the agricultural sector and have become truly competitive.
For most of Africa, it's only in recent years that they have embarked on their journey towards the agricultural revolution, with a vision to unleash the untapped potential of millions of small-scale farms and drive sustainable growth with appropriate mechanisation.
The benefits of a strong system of agriculture in Africa are great. The benefits to the world are equally so, as most of the arable land left in the world is in Africa. More and more the world looks at Africa to be its breadbasket; it will be the Africans and the African farmers who will profit from becoming the world’s breadbasket.
Farm Productivity will have to increase dramatically and, knowing that agricultural mechanisation is indeed the missing link, Mahindra for decades now has been working with Africa's farmers providing them with not only an efficient range of tractors, but also with innovative agri-mechanisation solutions.
"We are the only Indian tractor company, and among the few in the world, that have helped set up tractor assembly facilities in Africa," said Sanjay Jadhav, senior general manager of International Operations, Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors at Mahindra.
"Today, Mahindra tractors are assembled in five countries across the continent and, with some customisation, have helped us in providing farmers with tractors that are best suited for the local conditions. These assembly facilities also help the local economy by offering employment opportunities."
Close on the heels of the success its enjoying in Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania, Algeria and a few other western African countries, including Mali and Chad, the company plans to establish or consolidate its distribution network in many other countries – namely Morocco, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya and Benin.
The main impetus for this sense of urgency could be attributed to Mahindra’s ambitious plans for Africa. Unlike many other Indian tractor players that seek opportunities in Africa through bulk deals, Mahindra’s sustainable growth plan includes having strong retail markets. Today, Africa contributes about 20 per cent of the company’s exports, but with the launch of new products and a wider distribution network, the company plans to double its exports to Africa.
"Mahindra has a vision of delivering 'Farm-Tech Prosperity'," said Jadhav. "In order to do this Mahindra has transformed its tractor sales and service dealerships in India into Mahindra Samriddhi Centres.
"Mahindra Samriddhi is a strategic initiative that envisages rural prosperity through the dissemination of innovative farming technologies. These innovative farm technologies are sourced from various agri institutions. We understand that the springboard for growth in agri industry is having efficient farm business solutions and we therefore plan to bring Samriddhi centres to Africa too, in the near future," he added.
Staying close to the customers and having products specific to the market requirements, will also form the cornerstone of the company’s success, Jadhav noted. Over the last couple of years, the company has invested in developing higher HP tractors specifically for the African markets.
"As the Africa story is now unfolding very fast, we would like to be part of this growth story in a greater manner” Sanjay added.