6 000 farmers to attend Zambian agro-tech expo

By Nawa Mutumweno – Over 6 000 farmers are expected to attend a farmers agro-tech expo on latest technologies and techniques in agriculture.

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), in partnership with Musika and Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART), is expected to host the meeting at GART in Chisamba from April 4 – 5, 2014.

Over 20 companies have already confirmed participation and more are expected to come from Zambia and abroad, ZNFU media liaison officer Calvin Kaleyi said recently.

‘’ZNFU will for the first time host a farmers’ agro-tech expo in partnership with Musika and Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust which is expected to become an annual event. The expo will showcase the latest technologies and techniques in the agriculture sector which is happening around the world to improve productivity among small0scale, emergent and commercial farmers,’’ he elaborated.

The expo will attract about 30 companies as participants, and these include banks, agro companies, ,agro business institutions, leading farmers, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, agents and service providers, among others. Some of the   firms expected at the conference include Klaus from Germany while on the local front will be Saro Agro and Stanbic Bank.

The conference is aimed at farmers to learn and adopt new technologies and farming methods on the market and increase productivity. It is the first business-to-business international farming exhibition to be held in the country.

Most farmers in the country lack know-how on the use of latest technology in the agriculture sector, hence the conference will act as a platform for them to learn.

‘’Other countries in the world are saying mechanisation is the way to go to increase productivity, As Africa, we are looking forward to mechanise our small-scale farmers to boost the sector,’’ he pointed out.

United Kingdom, United States and Germany are some of the countries expected to attend the forum.

Zambia’s agriculture is expected to earn over $4 billion due to the boom in the sector, Agritech expo event director Liam Beckett has said.

The expansion of small-scale farming into emerging and subsequently commercial farmers is a key contributor to the growth of the agriculture sector.

‘’Zambia is a nation on the rise with a flourishing agriculture sector which accounts for a huge component of the country’s GDP,’’ he said.

Zambia’s economy is projected to be on one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world between 2014 and 2015.

Commenting on the expo, Mr. Beckett said Zambia’s booming agriculture sector will be in focus at the country’s first and only business-to-business outdoor agriculture exhibition in the country..

The event is a full-scale, live agriculture event offering first-hand demonstrations of the latest in large-scale agricultural machinery to live crop trials. The expo will also feature dozens of agrichemicals, financial services, irrigation and livestock stands.

One of the greatest challenges facing farmers across Africa is maximising the potential of their arable land by increasing crop yields. The average crop yields across Zambia are 1.5 – 2 metric tonnes per hectare when there is potential to achieve in excess of eight metric tonnes per hectare.

 Agritech Expo is being organised by leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, Spintelligent Pty. The event boasts of strong local industry and institutional support from ZNFU, Musika, GART and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).