DULUTH, Ga. — AGCO has launched a 150 hectare (371 acre) farm and learning center near Lusaka, Zambia. "Africa has tremendous growth potential in the agricultural equipment sector and our mission is to provide agricultural solutions for the continent's farmers," said Hubertus Muehlhaeuser, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Europe, Africa & Middle East. "AGCO is committed to growing its presence within Africa by investing in distribution infrastructure and new training sites — like the one planned for Zambia. We have committed to invest US $100 million in Africa in the coming years."

Nuradin Osman, AGCO's Director Africa & Middle East said: "The AGCO Global Learning Centre will help empower farmers in Africa to improve their food production levels." As Africa's population is set to rise to two billion by 2050, the need for mechanization, training, service and support for small and medium scale farmers has never been greater. "Small to medium scale farmers with limited access to modern farming will benefit from training courses ranging from basic agronomy to general mechanization. Large scale farmers will be offered training on high specification tractors and harvesting equipment, including precision farming technology." Also, given the importance of minimizing post-harvest loses, visitors to the center will see the latest in grain handling and storage techniques from AGCO's GSI product range.

Zambia's population is estimated at 13 million with the majority being in rural areas where the main economic activity is agriculture. Osman noted, "The centrality of Zambia's location and sound investment policies will make this institution well positioned to effectively serve the local farmers and the rest of the surrounding region."

"Zambia can increase food production by improving access to finance, up-scaling farm mechanization and the training of small and medium scale farmers. Construction of the Learning Centre is expected to be completed by mid 2013." The facilities will include a range of classrooms as well as a number of troubleshooting and service areas, all well equipped with the latest technology. The service areas will be large enough to accommodate combines, tracked and wheeled tractors.

Farmers will get hands-on experience by working with the latest machinery. The AGCO Model Farm will be divided into a wide range of demonstration crop areas to be planted, cultivated and harvested using AGCO's diverse range of equipment. The training facility is designed to effectively accommodate a full range of customers, from small scale producers up to large, commercial farmers.