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Bringing Storage Technology to Life in Mkushi, Zambia

By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East

central province_b2b_demo

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”.

For more information about upcoming Bags2Bulk events, please contact Louisa Parker:  louisa.parker@agcocorp.com.

Mkushi’s Agricultural Commissioner, Mr Luka Mwamba shakes hands with Louisa Parker of AGCO.  To their right, they are joined by Musika Central Region Manager, Mr. Mabvuto Chisi.

Mkushi’s Agricultural Commissioner, Mr Luka Mwamba shakes hands with Louisa Parker of AGCO. To their right, they are joined by Musika Central Region Manager, Mr. Mabvuto Chisi.

AGCO Bag2Bulk Roadshow Kicks Off in Central Province, Zambia

By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East

Central Province Bag2Bulk roadshow - March 2014 018

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.

Next stop, Mkushi, Zambia.  Central Province Bag2Bulk roadshow - March 2014 013

AGCO Partners with USAID to Introduce New Technologies to Zambia

Louisa Parker from AGCO kicks off first Bag2Bulk roadshow with the Mkushi District Commissioner Mr Luka Mwamba and Mabvuto Chisi from Musika.

Louisa Parker from AGCO kicks off first Bag2Bulk roadshow with the Mkushi District Commissioner Mr Luka Mwamba and Mabvuto Chisi from Musika.

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.