BOLOGNA, Italy — It’s not a far reach for Italian agriculturists to hand off some of its farm expertise with developing African nations.
Using the International Exhibition of Agricultural Machinery as a platform, officials with the Italian government and various trade interests unveiled two new cooperative programs designed to promote more mechanization in Africa.
“The African continent represents a challenge, and at the same time, a great opportunity for agricultural mechanization. The use of technologies for agriculture is still very limited if you think that only 3 percent of total tractors in the world is found in Africa. However, many African countries are increasing their agricultural economies and mechanization is considered an essential step in this process,” said Massimo Goldoni, president of FederUnacoma, a European ag machinery trade association.
The two programs included one about mechanizing family farms and another on a Mozambique milk project.
The family farm project looked at not only opportunities, but also barriers linked to the development of agricultural cooperation projects in Africa before formulating strategies for development. Officials pointed out that helping with this kind of development only works if African demands are addressed.
Kicking off the Mozambique program was viewing of noted documentary director Enrico Carlesi about local farmers and on-site cooperators in a project called “Africa Hand Project” for some of the country’s poorest farmers.
The project’s goal is to build a milk industry — from fodder crops for livestock farms, to collection, pasteurization and marketing of milk, yogurt and cheese — to help local families most affected by the recent civil war and considered the most socio-economically fragile to work their way out of poverty.
At the conference, the project’s launch was saluted with a milk tasting.
Besides humanitarian interests, Africa also represents business prospects. Ethiopia was one of Italy’s top exporters of farm machinery in 2015, reflecting a 250 percent increase over the past 10 years.
Nearly 1,500 visitors from Africa attended the farm machinery fair, with the most interest coming from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa.