On April 4-5, 2014, USAID's Southern Africa Trade Hub supported Agritech Expo, Zambia's first outdoor agricultural event servicing the needs of the entire agricultural value chain.
Over 8,000 participants — including suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, agents and service providers — attended the event at the GART Research Centre in Chisamba.
The expo was organized to showcase the latest agricultural technology and farming solutions to farmers throughout the region in partnership with the Zambia National Farmers Union.
The support of the Trade Hub enabled Agritech Expo to expand its reach to serve a broader, regional audience and introduce needed technology and agricultural services to farmers throughout Southern Africa to improve incomes and improve food security. The Trade Hub also sponsored free technical workshop programs that offered case studies, business tips and best practices for soil quality, mechanization, increased yields and sustainability. Above, emerging commercial farmers attend a session on successful crop diversification.
The Vice President of Zambia, Dr. Guy Scott, presided over Agritech Expo and even took a ride on one of the tractors during a field demonstration. Here, along with the President of ZNFU Dr. Evelin Nguleka and the CEO of ZNFU Ndambo Ndambo, Dr. Scott unveils the official milestone for the expo commemorating the event.
Average crop yields across Zambia are 1.5 - 2 metric tons per hectare, but there is potential to achieve 8-10 metric tons per hectare in certain maize varieties. Crop Demonstration plots at the Expo showed farmers the difference that quality seed and correct planting techniques can have on productivity.
Seventy companies, including machinery suppliers, seed producers, agrochemicals, financial services, grain handling, agricultural commodities, irrigation and livestock exhibitors exhibited their products over 24 hectares of expo space. Farmers were able to observe and test-drive tractors, combine harvesters, bakkies and quads themselves before buying in one of eleven working demonstration areas. Above, AFGRI, the regional retailer for John Deere tractors, conducts field demonstrations showing how the tractors effectively plow, cultivate and apply fertilizer.
Live crops trials, machinery demonstrations, professional consultation and vendor networking were all valuable aspects of the event. Here a B.A.S.F Agro Chemical Company field technician explains the benefits of their product to a farmer in attendance.
Zambia's booming agriculture sector accounts for 35% of the nation's GDP, which equates to around $4.5 billon. The expansion of small scale farming and the development of emerging and commercial farms are the key contributors to the growth of the agricultural sector. Here an emerging commercial farmer inspects a groundnut plant from a live crop trial.
As part of the Agritech Expo, the Southern Africa Trade Hub sponsored a vendor subsidiary program to finance the participation of small-to-medium enterprises from within the SADC region. Eight SMEs were able to attend due to this support, which gave them the opportunity to benefit from direct exposure and business networking within the regional farming community. Above, one of the supported SMEs, iSchool, demonstrates a Zedupad educational tablet program called "iFarm." iFarm was designed by farmers to help with crop and livestock disease identification, livestock productivity and farm management technology.
USAID Deputy Mission Director Littleton "Lit" Tazewell facilitated a discussion on the importance of supplier relationships in developing agricultural value chains at the Agribusiness Congress, a one-day conference that took place as part of the Expo. Panel sessions covered key issues including export and import regulations, crop diversification, innovative finance and supplier relationships, and offered designated networking opportunities for delegates and exhibitors.
Fifty emerging small scale farmers from throughout the region were sponsored by the Trade Hub to attend the inaugural Agritech Expo. USAID enabled their participation by subsidizing accommodation and per diems, giving the farmers access to the two-day show to help them grow their businesses, increase profits, network within the industry, test machinery and equipment, and see the latest in agricultural technologies and solutions.