When it comes to Africa, Martin Richenhagen, Duluth, Ga.-AGCO Corp.‘s CEO and chairman, doesn’t mince words.
For instance at this year’s AGCO Summit in Berlin in January he called for startups to disrupt traditional agricultural practices in efforts to address the challenges of food security, farmer livelihood and resource efficiency.
This year’s summit, an annual event which was first held in 2012, brought together panelists as it has in the past from agricultural equipment and technology companies, university representatives and investment partners.
Unlike years past, however, this year the attendees were exposed to 12 startups with agricultural applications in big data, cloud software, robotics, new crops development, smart fertilizing and urban farming.
Mr. Richenhagen’s disruption campaign isn’t limited to the summits. On May 21 the company’s Africa headquarters was opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the opening he outlined how the company with annual global sales of $8.3 billion would make major investments on the African continent.
“As a ‘first mover’ in innovation, we are meeting the challenge to grow more food with fewer resources head-on,” he said at the opening ceremony, then listed the company’s commitments to date including the parts warehouse that’s already built in Johannesburg, and the AGCO Future Farm and Training Center in Zambia where AGCO has partnered with its national distributor BHBW Zambia Limited and the Zambian National Commercial Bank Plc to provide retail financial solutions for farmers purchasing machinery from AGCO’s Massey Ferguson brand.
He also mentioned AGCO’s joint venture to produce tractors in Algeria where it began manufacturing tractors in 2012.
And he pointed to the launch in March of the accredited two-year agribusiness program titled the “AGCO Business Qualification” with the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, Kenya, Harper Adams University in the United Kingdom and the Kenya-based The Bridge Africa, which prepares graduates for employment.
The two-year agribusiness program for degree-holders aged 20-30 was initiated to attract and develop talent in the agribusiness sector. Twenty students have been enrolled in the program, and on completion of the course, successful candidates may have the opportunity to join AGCO and its partners, according to the program announcement.
Gary Collar, AGCO senior vice president and general manager for the Asia-Pacific and Africa, said at the program’s launch event, “Together with out partners we are making a long-term commitment to address the management skills’ shortage. We are determined to foster the expertise required to work successfully in the agricultural supply chain and tackle the current recruitment challenges our industry faces here.”