By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East
In June Bags2Bulk held its first demonstration day showcasing the bulk storage technology to grain traders. GSI Africa and the installation team worked tirelessly to have the demo unit ready for the event held In Mkushi which was well attended. It was great to see the response of the traders now that they have been able to see and touch the technology as the project team was pleased to receive the local Agricultural Commissioner Mr. Luka Mwamba as guest of honour at the event.
This is the first of several demonstration events that will take place at five locations throughout Central and Eastern province in Zambia during the course of the pilot. The team is now following up on a number of sales leads and GSI is now looking at several candidates to take forward the role of sales assistant to support the project.
Speaking at the event, the Commissioner noted that he had seen the GSI technology and was impressed by what he’d seen. He said “previously, this technology has only been available to large commercial farmers. I am pleased that now this is available to farmers and traders both large and small.” While he praised the technology, he was quick to state that the government supports the Bags2Bulk initiative and encourages other players in the agriculture industry to come on board. Still, he cautioned “Of course nothing comes for free. Financing will be key to accessing this technology. It is good to see the banks here today. My message to you is work hard to develop a finance solution so that the farmers can take advantage of this new technology.” To the traders, he reminded them that farming is a business not a charity. In closing, the Commissioner said “we look forward to seeing many shiny new silos on the small scale farms across Mkushi district in the months to come”.
By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East
To support AGCO’s new partnership with USAID on the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation project in Africa, the first kickoff Bags2Bulk Roadshow event was held in May and attended by grain traders from Central Province in Zambia. Working with our Zambian distributor GSI Africa and local partners Musika and Ybema Grain Services, we were able to share details of the Bags2Bulk project and educate the traders on the benefits of moving from bagged storage for maize and soya to bulk storage via the GSI technology. Benefits will not only be gained by the mid-size trader, but pass along to the small farmer as well – in the forms of reduced grain loss and better grain quality for longer storage periods allowing the trader to sell when the timing is optimal.
Traders received short presentations from a number of supporting organisations including two of the largest grain commodity traders in Zambia. The larger traders are keen to see this shift from bag to bulk as it also improves the efficiency of their operations. Ultimately, it means they can buy and sell more maize in a season also. For smallholders, the benefits are threefold 1) improved connections to the market, 2) greater transparency on pricing, 3) being able to recycle their grain bags and use them more than once.
Of course, we learned as much from the traders as they learned from us. We got a much better understanding of the challenges they have with logistics, commissioning trucks, aggregating the harvested maize from the small holders and trading their harvest in time to hit the trading season all while monitoring the quality of the grain they are trading. All of these aspects can be improved by moving to bulk storage and adding a portable auger. Additionally, they’ll enjoy the added bonus of dramatically reducing post-harvest losses which continues to plague Africa today.
AGCO is pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with USAID on a project in Africa. USAID’s Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative which supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through this Presidential initiative, the United States is helping countries transform their own agricultural sectors to grow enough food to sustainably feed their people. The idea is to take new technology into new markets. In this project, called Bag2Bulk, AGCO will be introducing GSI Africa (our local GSI distributor) to mid-sized grain traders in Zambia.
To complement AGCO’s current long-term vision in Zambia, over the next 18 months, AGCO and our partners will hold select activities at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka. These events will provide education and demonstrate the benefits of our GSI storage technology. Additionally, topics by our partners will cover grain marketing best practices, financing and more. The goal is to sell a minimum of 40 metal grain silos to grain traders in Zambia which will benefit some 12,000 smallholder farmers who represent 80% of the maize production in the country. Since current on-farm storage options and off farm facilities are sub-optimal resulting in annual post-harvest losses of over 30% from insect, rodent and rot, the grain quality of will not only improve overall trade prices, but will allow traders to handle cereal crops more effectively, store for longer periods of time and sell when prices are optimal.
AGCO’s project partners are:
- Musika is a Zambian non-profit company that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market.
- Sierk Ybema Grain Services is a grain management training and development provider.
- GSI Africa, our local GSI distributor.
Look for updates following these exciting events from Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East.
At AGCO, we strive every day to improve the quality of life for people in the communities where we operate, here in the United States and around the world. As a result of our efforts and those of other leading companies, the business community has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, conserve water and protect the environment – achievements that not only benefit Americans, but people in all countries.
A new Business Roundtable report, “Create, Grow, Sustain: Celebrating Success,” highlights the remarkable results of the sustainability efforts of 150 companies, including AGCO, which are driving investment, economic growth and job creation – while simultaneously improving the communities where we work and live.
Here’s one example of how we are ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come:
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Written by: Joy Jelimo Chelagat, 2014 AGCO Africa Ambassador
On the 15th of January at 5:00 am in the morning I drove to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on my trip to Berlin, Germany. Just five months before I had seen a competition online for an ambassadorship opportunity. Having only a week to the deadline, I was pretty sure that my chances were slim, but I decided to apply anyway.
To my surprise, the AGCO team got in contact with me. A few Skype interviews later I was informed that I could represent Africa at the annual AGCO Africa Summit in Berlin. Two months passed by fast and I was aboard a plane heading to Germany. The trip was long and the weather was a stark difference from the sunny Nairobi climes, but the warm welcome of the team in the Adlon Hotel made me feel at home.
The day after I arrived I hit the ground running. I had a meeting with a team of AGCO people to prepare for the activities scheduled. It was only our first meeting yet they were very friendly and resourceful. I also met Sue Musunga Chuzu, who was the first AGCO Africa Ambassador and who works now as Marketing Services Specialist at AGCO in Zambia. She shared her experiences with me and gave me some presentation tips for moderating the conference.
Agriculture is Universal
One of my tasks as Africa Ambassador was to represent AGCO at the International Green Week fair. The “Grüne Woche”, as the Germans call it, is an agricultural trade show that attracts exhibitors from around the world. Together with Marco Prehn, Sahra Malin, Sue Chuzu and Philip De Leon from AGCO we talked to numerous people about what the company is doing in Africa. One thing was evident during the fair: agriculture is a global concern. Even though the visitors and exhibitors were from far flung corners of the globe, they all came together in one place for once cause: agriculture.
The night before the AGCO Africa Summit we had an exclusive dinner with the conference‘s speakers and the top brass of the AGCO team. The room was full of exceptional people who had done great things for the African continent. From the conversations we had that evening, I could tell that the summit would be full of wonderful insights. As I woke up that Monday I was fully charged for the conference.
Walking into the conference hall, the excitement was palpable. You could see crowds of people huddled together immersed in conversation. You could spot top decision makers of key sectors of the agricultural industry. As the program kicked off, I was slightly nervous but as we moved along I eased up. Each speaker rose to the podium with wonderful ideas about the improvement of the agriculture industry in Kenya and on the African continent.
The speakers and panelists talked about their activities in Africa and about what they plan to do in days to come. Robert Sichinga, Agriculture Minister of Zambia, riled the crowd when he passionately explained why solutions to African agriculture have to be African. Another topic that got the audience excited was the appeal to make agriculture “sexy” for it to attract young people. Several speakers also emphasized the issue of innovation. Thus by the end of the full-day event I was more convinced than ever that agriculture is not only the present but also the future for Africa.
Yet, my trip was not all business. I had several opportunities to shop and tour the German capital. Berlin is a beautiful city with rich history: I visited the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust memorial. Another highlight of the trip was the opportunity to meet and make friends with remarkable people from all around the globe.
All in all, this journey was an inspirational and eye-opening experience. I was able to see how small-scale innovations in the field have a global impact on food security. The importance of efficient production, transportation and distribution was also brought home. At the end of the trip I felt charged to take up my role as AGCO Africa Ambassador for the year 2014.