DULUTH, GEORGIA, U.S. — AGCO said it will make a significant investment toward further development of the Future Farm training facility in Zambia.

The announcement was made July 31 at a ground-breaking ceremony on the 150-hectare farm outside of Lusaka.

“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,” said Gary Collar, AGCO senior vice-president and general manager, Asia Pacific and Africa. “To achieve this we are designing our solutions with Africa in mind and ensuring that we can support our products and customers, locally.”

Upgrades for Phase II will include the construction of student and staff accommodations with 24 rooms, communal amenities such as a canteen that sits over 80 people and an Insaka homestead — a traditional complex of grass gazebos with a central courtyard to encourage interactive learning. The second phase of the Future farm also will include upgrades to the existing road and farm infrastructure and digitizing the mechanization and agronomy training material to ensure that this knowledge is accessible even to farmers in remote parts of the continent.

 Guests were welcomed by Nuradin Osman, AGCO vice-president and general manager, Africa, who 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.