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My AGCO Ambassador Experience at Africa Summit 2014

Written by: Joy Jelimo Chelagat, 2014 AGCO Africa Ambassador

Joy Jelimo Chelagat, AGCO's 2014 Africa Ambassador

Joy Jelimo Chelagat, AGCO’s 2014 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.

African Solutions

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.

Introducing #AG4Good: Powering the Future

AGCO has proudly partnered with the Zambia 4-H project to help prepare Africa’s children to meet urgent global needs, including hunger, sustainable livelihoods and food security. By 2015, 4-H will equip 250,000 young people in Sub-Saharan Africa with the knowledge and skills needed for improved, sustainable livelihoods. Click here to learn more about the #AG4Good initiative on our Facebook page.
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AGCO Backs Youth Investment Summit in Africa

AGCO is proud to support the OIC International Youth Investment Summit: The Road to Economic Growth, held in Accra, Ghana last week.

At the event Louisa Parker, Manager Institutional Funding and Stakeholder Relations, Africa & Middle East, presented details of exclusive research that shows how young people are transforming agriculture across the world.

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Commissioned by Massey Ferguson – AGCO’s global brand – the report highlights how a New Generation of young people is choosing farming as a career, because it offers a bright future. Young people’s enthusiasm, energy and optimism, says the report, is combined with a growing demand for food across the world. This open-minded New Generation is ready to embrace the opportunities that come their way.

The research also shows that across the world younger farmers are taking over family farms and revolutionising the way they are operated. Countries such as Brazil and China and those in Africa are at the forefront of this change.

AGCO, through Massey Ferguson, already has unparalleled expertise and local knowledge of African agriculture, which it has amassed over many generations. It is now strengthening its commitment to the continent with investments, totally $100 million, in number of initiatives, which are aimed at creating employment, helping to develop infrastructure and improve mechanisation, as well as providing wider access to education and training.

In Lusaka, Zambia AGCO has created a new 150ha (330 acre) Model Farm and Learning Centre, where it is putting its development commitment and ideas into action. This centre offers education and training to African farmers, at all levels, to provide a better understanding about soils, agronomy, crop protection and mechanisation techniques to boost sustainable productivity.

AGCO’s eventual aim is to transfer the knowledge and infrastructure being developed at the Zambian Model farm and Learning Centre across Africa. Exporting the core knowledge and expertise from Zambia will help establish the ‘Future Farm’ concept to provide further education and agricultural development across the continent. At the same time the project aims to ‘pull in’ other partners with AGCO to help develop the much-needed infrastructure and supply industry. Appropriate farm mechanisation is seen as the key to unlocking Africa’s agricultural potential. Investment in farm machinery technology accompanied, importantly, by education will provide the catalyst for rural development. Farm machinery boosts efficiency and helps increase yields, while also relieving workers from the drudgery of manual labour currently employed in many areas to cultivate the land and tend crops.

This is highlighted in the song ‘Youth In Agriculture’, written and performed by the MEGA Fame Foundation, an NGO from Ghana. The catchy tune and memorable lyrics aim to convey the message that a country’s health and development largely depend on farming; and by taking an active role in agriculture young Africans can help in the fight against hunger. The music video to promote the song and message was filmed using the support and resources of Massey Ferguson’s Audio Visual team at the Model Farm and Learning Centre in Zambia. The lively video shows the band performing with help from young farm staff and village children. The video, which was screened at the Summit, can be viewed here.

Elsewhere across the continent, AGCO initiatives are creating a wide range of new jobs with on-the-job training, as well as improving the infrastructure and support for farmers. Local assembly of Massey Ferguson tractors for the African market has now started with a joint venture operation in Algeria. This has already created a wide range of jobs at all levels – from highly trained engineers through to trainees. It is also boosting the local economy and offering further employment opportunities through the value chain.

Meanwhile AGCO continues to invest in developing its own business and facilities in the region and has recently built and opened a new Parts Distribution Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa as well as a new regional office in Cape Town. It is also working on a variety of projects to improve its distribution network in North, West and East Africa.

N113 HiTech Charity Auction Tomorrow

Visitors to the Valtra stand at Agritechnica last November had the chance to use their creativity and support farming in Africa at the same time.

The centrepiece of the stand was the new N113 HiTech tractor, which visitors could customise to their liking by adding their fingerprints and signatures in paint. Almost 6500 people took the opportunity to leave their mark.

The customised “fingerprint”-tractor will be sold on Thursday May 24 by Ritchie Bros. at their auction site in Meppen, Germany.  To participate you can either bid live at the auction or online. For more information visit the auction website www.rbauction.com

 

Proceeds to Weiveld Agriculture School in South Africa

With the proceeds Valtra will donate a new A93 HiTech tractor, custom-built to the needs of the school, technical training as well as other materials and tools.

The school offers studies in agriculture, technology, hotel and restaurant management, and data processing to approximately 600 students.

Co-operation between the local Valtra importer and the school will also continue after the donation.