"Working with the ZNFU we are organising an international exhibition of the latest agriculture machinery and technologies to drive growth in the Zambian farming sector” says David Ashdown, Managing Director of Spintelligent Pty (Ltd), the organisers of the Agritech Expo that is taking place again at the GART research centre from 16-18 April. He continues: “We create and build the expo on the field with all infrastructure and services being brought in. Then on the same site lives a small primary school which is in such a dire state of dis-repair that the contrast is unpalatable. The project team are therefore massively driven to give back and support the children and provide a safe and inspiring environment in which to be educated.”
More than 10 000 people are again expected to descend on the centre of agriculture in Zambia next month, following the successful launch of the event last year. Agritech Expo is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK.
“Education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays a foundation for sustained economic growth”, says David Ashdown. He continues: “at Spintelligent we believe that becoming actively involved in the communities and countries we invest in is crucial in making an actual impact. In this case, our concern is not just the economic impact on Zambia, but also the social and moral impact that an event of this nature will create”.
The Agritech Outreach Programme has identified the Golden Valley Basic School, which is situated on the GART research farm and has 546 students aged 7-18 and 17 teachers, for assistance in building renovations, supply of equipment and the school’s farm management. According to David Ashdown, this pilot project will “address and facilitate much needed assistance in creating a safer and more stimulating environment for the children as well as teachers.”
Renovations, supplies and farming
The first phase of the project, funded by the expo and exhibitor donors, will entail improving the safety and aesthetics of the existing school buildings, including replacing windows, repairing roofs, painting inside and outside and repairs to various sections of the structures. Plumbing and electrical improvements, as well as several additional buildings, including five new classrooms, are also being planned.
To assist the Golden Valley Basic School with equipment and supplies, the Agritech Expo team has joined forces with another event that Spintelligent organises, namely the annual African EduWeek in Johannesburg. A school library, new furniture and equipment and a sustainable supply of learning materials and stationery are in the pipeline.
Since the opening of the school in 1992, the self-sufficient farm school relies on its crops and the sale thereof to keep the institution running. Says David: “I am pleased to announce that our Agritech Expo sponsors have responded with such generosity to our request for assistance that we will be able to assist the farm with maize seeds for the year, soil mapping, drip irrigation and vegetable seeds, machinery and manpower and grass seed for the football pitch”. The contributing companies include: Seed Co., SGS, Amiran, AFGRI and Klein Karoo.
“We are so excited about this project and cannot afford to miss this opportunity. It means so much to us” says Mr Merwin Lulu, District Secretary for Chisamba of Zambia’s Ministry of Education, Sciences and Vocational Training.
Spintelligent’s David Ashdown says “it is very important for us that this is the start of a long-term project in which we will stay involved with the school in a sustainable manner. The Agritech Outreach Programme still needs more financial donations to assist with the renovations, farming assistance, stationery, school and sports equipment”.
Entire agri-value chain in Zambia
Agritech Expo is a business-to-business platform for agricultural professionals, from small scale farmers to commercial enterprises, to engage and conduct business with some of the world’s leading suppliers to the agricultural industry. From live crop trials and machinery demonstrations, the event services the needs of the entire agri-value chain in Zambia and its neighbours.
Agritech Expo dates and location:
The expo days are planned with the following audiences in mind:
16 April, Thursday: large scale, commercial farmers, emerging large scale farmers, VIPs, media, government, industry stake holders;
17 April, Friday: Small scale farmers, emerging farmers;
18 April, Saturday: small scale farmers, emerging farmers and other interested visitors;
Location: GART Centre, Chisamba, Zambia.