ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
FOR a moment, forget about the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show, a five-day event organised by the Agricultural and Commercial Show Society of Zambia (ACSZ) in Lusaka leading to Farmers Day, a public holiday.
Think about the Agritech Expo.
But what is it about?
“In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub, Agritech Expo Zambia is the ultimate business-to-business buying platform for agricultural professionals, from small-scale farmers to commercial enterprises, to engage and conduct business with some of the world’s leading suppliers to the agricultural industry,” the Agritech website reads.
“Establishing a marketplace for regional and international industry professionals, young agripreneurs and farmers of all scales come together in one location to conduct exclusive agribusiness transactions while being educated on the latest global industry trends to advance into the next generation of food production.
“From live crop trials and machinery demonstrations to technical and practical workshops and business lounges for commercial players, Agritech Expo presents the gateway to industry innovations with the leading outdoor exhibition in the region for the agri community. Agritech Expo is simply the only professional business-led event servicing the needs of the entire agri-value chain in Zambia and its neighbouring countries.”
That is what it simply is about.
The Agritech Expo, which started five years ago, has developed into an influential agricultural trade show exposing both small-scale farmers and commercial enterprises to up to date with industry practices.
The concept of the expo was taken from South Africa’s Nampo Agricultural Trade Show, an annual event held in Bothaville since 1974. The show, which is also known as Nampo Harvest Day or Nampo Oesdag, is organised by Grain South Africa and features a large variety of agricultural machinery and livestock.
This year’s Agritech Expo Zambia, which started yesterday under the theme ‘Resilience part of Zambian nature: Applauding every step forward towards the modernisation of Zambian agriculture’, will be officially opened by President Edgar Lungu today at the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) in Chisamba.
Some of the invited guests include Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo, Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Kampamba Mulenga, the Farmers Expo Board chairman, Ashok Oza, and Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba.
The expo will provide agricultural producers and the public an opportunity to experience what modern agriculture looks like and to witness what is new on the market.
Agritech Expo is owned by ZNFU and enjoys support from Government as well as other stakeholders.
This year’s event has attracted about 20,000 farming professionals and visitors, over 270 local and international exhibitors with 3,500 high-profile delegates, large-scale farmers and about 150 members of the press.
Therefore, the emphasis by Government to make agriculture a major contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of the country has further enabled GART Research Centre to increase the number of land to be occupied at this year’s expo from 20,000 in the last five years to 70,000.
The expo is a landmark event for Zambia’s agriculture sector, providing a business-to-business platform for agricultural professionals, from small-scale farmers to commercial enterprises by enabling them to engage and conduct business with some of the world’s leading suppliers to the agricultural industry.
The show, which started as a small-scale venture has grown to be one of the most sought after agriculture expos in the region coming in second after South Africa’s Nampo Harvest Day.
There is no doubt that this year’s Agritech Expo is poised to transform the agriculture sector through the provision of innovative services by various exhibitors.
Government has continued to support the event through the provision of better policies and initiatives that are aimed at boosting agriculture in the country.
President Lungu has been championing the economic diversification agenda and the need for Zambia to embrace agriculture and tourism, among other sectors, to help lift the country out of poverty.
That is why the Agritech Expo is welcome.
Despite an outbreak of the Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in Chibombo and Chisamba districts, the expo is on. Or as they say, all roads lead to Chisamba.
However, the exhibition of cattle and other livestock species will not be allowed at this year’s Agritech Expo.
Consequently, the initiative by Government and ZNFU to subject all participants, including their vehicles, to screening before entering the main arena will help contain the outbreak.
The Agritech Expo is expected to bring with it many financial benefits that will trickle down to other economic sectors such as the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) through the collection of tolls due to increased traffic during the expo period.
And as Zambia focuses more on diversifying its economy, there is need to invest more in the agriculture sector as it plays a strategic role in the development of the country.
Therefore, there is no secret that technology improvement or innovative development should be adapted and applied to the scientific requirements of farmers and agricultural industries to attain better outputs.
Since farming is a scientific business, the Agritech Expo is the way to go if Zambian farmers are to increase their productivity and profitability to promote sustainable food security for the country.
This year’s platinum sponsors are Afgri and John Deere, Saro and Ursus are gold supporters, with the Zambia Daily Mail being the premier media partner.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka