AGCO summit focuses on ag prosperity in Africa

by Holly Demaree
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Rob Smith, AGCO senior vice-president and general manager, Europe and Middle East (EME); Christian Wulff, Former Federal president of Germany and Gary Collar, AGCO senior vice-president and general manager Asia Pacific and Africa (APA) at the AGCO Africa Summit 2017. 
Photo courtesy of  Business Wire.
 
DULUTH, GEORGIA, U.S. — AGCO, a manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, on Jan. 23 held its sixth annual AGCO Africa Summit in Berlin, Germany. A joint initiative of AGCO, Bayer CropScience, Rabobank, De Lage Landen, Trelleborg and Fuse Connected Services, this year’s summit focused on “Organizing Farmers of the Future.”

“Co-operation among farmers has proven advantages in the advancement of agriculture,” said Gary Collar, AGCO senior vice-president, Asia Pacific and Africa. “As well as giving farmers a voice and pushing for beneficial policies from the grassroots, collaboration can help achieve economies of scale and facilitate access to inputs, credit and markets. Today, technology, particularly through the proliferation of mobile phones and social media in Africa, is providing one of the greatest-ever opportunities for groups to organize themselves into powerful, influential bodies.”

Keynote speakers at the event included Christian Schmidt, Germany’s Federal minister of Food and Agriculture; Elsie Kanza, head of Africa, World Economic Forum; Christian Wulff, Former Federal president of Germany; and Agnes Kalibata, president of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Through presentations and panel discussions, the summit explored how agribusiness and farmer-based organizations can be aligned as co-creators of rural wealth; how youth and Information and communication technology (ITC) can catalyze the organization of farmers in the future, and how maximum “value” can be secured from the value chains for the farmers who participate in them.

Among the panelists were figures from farmer organizations in Africa and Europe including Theo de Jager, president Pan African Farmers’ Organization; Joachim Rukwied, president German Farmers’ Association; Ishmael Sunga, chief executive officer (CEO);  Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions;  and Jehiel Oliver, CEO and founder of Hello Tractor, an innovative shared-economy platform that makes tractor usage affordable to marginalized farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

“AGCO is investing significantly in Africa and growing its local presence there by providing African farmers and African agribusinesses with comprehensive agricultural solutions,” said Nuradin Osman, AGCO vice-president and general manager Africa. “The company is committed to the transformation of African agriculture based on a strategy of inclusive and sustainable farm mechanization. In 2017, we will be retaining a strong focus and investment in small-scale agriculture, as well as leading the way in high-tech solutions for commercial farmers on the continent.”

Since its premiere in 2012, AGCO said the summit has established itself as an important institution for discussing critical issues impacting Africa’s agricultural development. The summit has a strong focus on private sector-driven agricultural growth, promoting the idea of agriculture as a business and not a development agenda. The focus of panel topics, discussions and workshops engage with practical real-life examples of leading edge projects and initiatives. The international conference attracts CEOs, industry experts and political leaders with a common interest to accelerate the development of African agriculture.
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