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US firm to build $10m agro centre

A UNITED States of American agriculture firm is constructing a training centre in Zambia at a cost of US$10 million to enable farmers farmers improve food production.
AGCO’s managing director Africa and Middle East Nuradin Osman said the project will be a platform for capacity building for small to medium scale farmers with limited access to modern farming knowledge.
Mr Osman said in response to query on Tuesday that the centre, which  is expected to open in May this year, will provide courses ranging from basic crop production to general mechanisation.
“The training centre is currently under construction at a cost of US$10 million. This will be a platform and systems approach to deliver training and capacity building .Our total investment in Zambia has been into the Future Farm Project where we own a 150 hectare in Lusaka,” he said.
Mr Osman said the firm has also launched Bags to Bulk pilot project in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to complement the company’s long-term vision in Zambia with select activities taking place at the Future Farm.
He said the partnership with USAID will benefit over 12,000 smallholder farmers who will acquire metal storage silos.
Mr Osman said improved storage systems using metal storage silos instead of bags will help address market inefficiencies, enable smallholder farmers and traders to safely store larger quantities of maize for later sales when prices rise.
He said there is significant demand for improved storage facilities with 80 percent of the maize coming from smallholder farmers in Zambia.
“Currently, smallholder farmers have limited to no on-farm storage options and use sub-optimal facilities offered by local grain traders. Smallholders primarily use recycled plastic bags to store grain and combined with grain trader damp on-farm conditions, this results in total annual post-harvest losses of over 30 percent from rot, rodent, and insect damage.
“Limited quality storage options limit farmers’ ability to store the harvest and sell for a higher price later in the season. In addition, storage and transport of maize in bags is less efficient for traders and aggregators who prefer to receive grain in bulk,” he said.