The first of the three sessions at Agritechnica 2017’s specialist conference for farm equipment manufacturers and exporters will focus on Iran and African nations. Ag Machinery International 2017 – Business Opportunities in Emerging Markets aims to help inform delegates about interesting markets in emerging economies and developing countries, and the program on November 14 is titled "Opportunities in new markets – will the prophecies hold true?"
Taking place in Room 1B in the Convention Center at Hanover’s exhibition grounds from 17:00-19:15, the session is in two parts: Iran – A flash in the pan or a lasting upturn?; and African states – agricultural sector reports, report from the field and best practice examples (Kenya and Zambia). The session will be conducted in English only.
Will Iran live up to its potential?
Even before 2015’s nuclear framework agreement with Iran, and the subsequent lifting of trade sanctions, the country was already an important market for the European agricultural machinery industry, but with nearly 80 million inhabitants and a GDP of US$394 million (336 million euros), a rapid increase in foreign trade was expected.
A report published by the Danish government in March this year—"The agriculture and food market in Iran"—says that since January 2016, Iranian GDP has grown by a solid 4-5%, a development that is expected to continue in the years to come. This positive economic outlook is likely to have a positive impact on food demand.
The continuous population growth, a sizeable middle class and increased urbanization is also expected to add further to a growing food demand in Iran. These circumstances contribute to the fact that both the Iranian agriculture and the food sectors are forecast to grow significantly in the years to come.
These prospects of growing food demand are matched by a demand for investment and modernization of the Iranian food industry and agricultural sector. Both areas have suffered from a backlog in investment during the sanction period prior to 2015.
Furthermore, modern and improved technologies and machinery are required to raise efficiency and reduce the production impact on Iran’s relatively scarce natural resources. In particular, water consumption in the food industry and the agricultural sector needs to be reduced substantially to prevent a future water crisis in Iran.
Africa holds huge agricultural promise
In sharp contrast to Iran’s water shortages, the African nation of Zambia claims to have large expanses of arable land and an abundance of water. In fact, it says it has the potential to be the food bowl of Africa, but bringing farming into the 21st century in the country still faces massive challenges.
Zambia has 75 million hectares of land, and although 60% of it is suitable for cropping, only 15% of it is currently cultivated. Thanks to its numerous rivers, lakes and underground water resources, the country has 40% of Southern and Central Africa’s water resources, and its climate means crops can be grown all year round.
In an effort to achieve its long-term goals, the Zambian government wants to establish farm blocks. Therefore, it is offering overseas ventures willing to invest in agriculture a main farm of approximately 10,000 hectares in size. As part of the deal, Zambian commercial and small farmers will be allocated land around the main farm where they can produce crops to sell to the investor.
Zambia’s government hopes this model will help it to move away from a subsidized agricultural system, where the efficiencies of mechanization allow it to operate without support at world prices. This is good news for the farm machinery sector, and several globally recognized manufacturers have already moved to assist the country in this process.
One full-line agricultural machinery maker has established what it calls a Future Farm on the outskirts of the Zambian capital, Lusaka. Spread across 150 hectares, this grows a range of demonstration crops and is home to agricultural machinery and training facilities aimed at educating Zambian farmers for the future.
Of course, companies looking to trade with Zambia, and other African nations, will have to compete with the Chinese. They have already moved into the country and set up farms and processing facilities to produce food to send home to its huge population.
Network opportunities at country-specific get-togethers
The conference, which first took place at Agritechnica 2013, consists of three sessions on consecutive days from November 14-16. Each session will offer market reports and best-practice examples from successful firms. Farmers from the respective countries will also be reporting from the field. After the conferences, there will be the chance for delegates to exchange ideas and experiences and network with invited guests at country-specific get-togethers.
All three sessions take place at the Convention Center at the heart of Hanover’s Exhibition Grounds. Anyone with an admission ticket to Agritechnica is eligible to participate, but prior registration is required for organizational reasons. Interested parties will be able to register online from early September via the trade fair’s website.
Agritechnica 2017 takes place from the November 12-18 (with special preview days on November 12 and 13). More than 2,500 exhibitors from all over the world have registered to take part.