AGCO Corp. celebrated the groundbreaking of a distribution center at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 14.

Its African Master Parts Distribution Centre is to be operated with AGCO’s South African distribution partner, Barloworld, and represents a first step to improve the company’s after-sales infrastructure for African markets.

Hubertus Muhlhauser, senor vice president and general manager for the company’s Europe, Africa and Middle East operations, said in a press release that the facility will improve response times and machine uptime for AGCO’s Africa customers.

The facility is to be completed by the end of 2012 and AGCO plans to invest $100 million in Africa over the next few years, according to Mr. Muhlhauser.

“A continent like Africa has significant potential for growth in the agriculture sector. With 11 percent of the world’s arable land, much of which is uncultivated, Africa will benefit from modern, mechanized farming techniques,” he added.

AGCO Massey Fergusson tractors have been in Africa for more than 50 years and the company leverages alliances with governments, foreign investors and donors to improve agricultural practices in Africa, according to the news release.

The company plans to fund the development of model farms and training centers in Zambia, Ethiopia, Morocco and South Africa that will allow local farmers and dealers to be trained on new farming methods and technology, the news release said.

Duluth-based AGCO distributed its agricultural machinery and products through 3,100 independent dealers and distributors in more than 140 countries.

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