Six months ago, founder and chairman of the Bahle Zondo Foundation, philanthropist and entrepreneur Dr. Bahle Zondo walked into the AGCO Africa office announcing that he would like to set up a successful agribusiness in his community of Msinga. He was quick to add, that he knew nothing about farming. AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO), is positioned to be the driving force in the development of a sustainable and prosperous agricultural industry across the continent. Zondo had just walked into the home of a strategic partner towards the empowerment of emerging farmers and achieving food security in Africa.
In 2019, the Foundation marked a milestone in scaling up operations through mechanisation during a handover ceremony of the Massey Ferguson MF 5710 tractor on one of its farming sites in Mkhuzeni, Msinga. For Zondo, it all began with a protest of about 50 women outside the local primary school.
“The women were pleading for more job opportunities with the school’s feeding scheme,” explains Zondo who is always keen to find solutions for his community. “It was impossible for all these women to be employed by the school.”
He had to find an alternative that would utilise their skills to restore their dignity and empower them with the means to sustain themselves and families. With a seed fund of R1.2 million, Zondo established the uMsinga Farming Project by merging 3 informal cooperatives on communal land with sites varying from 2 to 50 hectares in size. Zondo was certain that he could uncover economic opportunities for these women if only he could access the right guidance, equipment and training.
Based on soil analysis and site visits by the AGCO team together with Drakensburg Agricultural Services (DAS) – a Massey Ferguson dealer in the region, Zondo was advised to purchase the MF 5710, known for its ease to operate and dependability. The MF 5700 series comes in 3 models -5708, 5709, 5710; 92 hp to 102 hp (61 – 76 kW). Powered by 4 cylinder engines, the series is available in 2WD and 4WD axles.
“No farmer, no nation!” assured by Nuradin Osman, AGCO Vice President & GM, Africa, at the tractor handover ceremony. “AGCO understands that the future of farming in Africa rests heavily on small scale farmers and the emerging middle class. Our mission is a development strategy: Empowering African Farmers.”
The tractor was handed over by Leon Rohrs, Managing Director of DAS. Being a farmer himself, Leon knows the challenges and needs of local farmers first hand and has been key to AGCO’s 28.2% market share in the region of northern KwaZulu Natal, in just under a decade.
The handover ceremony was attended by iNduna Zuma and iNduna Ntuli representing the local chief, iNkosi Majozi. Other AGCO businesses GSI – responsible for grain storage facility; Sparrex, suppliers of approved AGCO replacement parts & accessories as well as AGCO’s distributor in Southern Africa, BHBW – A Barloworld BayWa Company were represented at the event.
Word spread fast in the community and soon the event turned into a Massey Ferguson tractor convention as local owners of vintage models pulled in, to showcase their prized possessions and the AGCO team and partners were at hand to assist with advice on spare parts, implements and modifications.
“Having both the Managing Director of DAS and the AGCO Vice President & GM of Africa come all the way to our village of Msinga to hand over this tractor, truly indicates their passionate dedication to the success of the farmer – be it an emerging or an established one,” concluded Zondo as he thanked all who had attended the ceremony.
AGCO together with DAS have taken this project under their wing and will provide advisory and mentoring on Agronomy practices, technical support, on-going product aftercare as well as link uMsinga Farming Project to support services within the industry.