BY MICHAEL EBOH
Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Dizengoff (West Africa) Nigeria Limited, Mr. Richard Hargrave, in this interview, revealed that Allis-Gleaner Corporation, AGCO, the world largest manufacturers of tractors, is already in talks with the Federal Government of Nigeria and states in the country to help increase mechanization and improve the number and qualities of agricultural support and service centers. He also stated that AGCO is considering investing about $80 million sub-Saharan Africa, and that Nigeria would benefit from the investment as the country is number one on the company’s priority. Excerpts:
I am Mr. Richard Hargrave, Managing Director, Dizengoff West Africa (Nigeria) Limited. I first came to Lagos in 1978; from 1978 to 1982 we were managing what was then known as JSK. I left in 1982 and came back in 1986 for Sniff Crime Picture Merger. I left and went to America, went to Japan and return to Nigeria in 1997, since then I have been in Nigeria. So, I have been in Nigeria for quite a while and I am enjoying Nigeria a lot.
Dizengoff was established in Nigeria, 1958, part of Balton CP Limited, a UK registered multinational conglomerate operating across sub-Saharan Africa. We are proud of our reputation for integrity, professionalism, reliability and innovation, and our ability to offer decades of Global expertise twinned with unsurpassed knowledge of the Nigerian market. The company is focused on two fundamental areas, the public and principle sectors such as, telecommunications and radio communications sectors which is the public sector, while the principle clients faces the oil and gas sector.
Then the other half of the company is the Agricultural sector which focuses on integrated solutions, mechanizations, tractors implementations, agro-chemical, irrigation products, green housing and a lot of other solutions which are focused to achieve one mission, how to help farmers on sustainable basis to mark the increase yields of food sufficiency and this is our fundamental mission in Nigeria. That is highly compatible with the transformation agenda initiative and policy of government of Nigeria. How do they solve the issues in production of food requirement of the nation? There is a lot of importation of food in Nigeria, which is why we see it necessary to help the country to achieve its aim.
Issue of importation of fake mechanized agric equipment into Nigerian market
It became a pain to us that the said tractors are bearing the trade mark of Massey Ferguson, Massey Ferguson is a trade mark designed by AGCO, the world’s largest manufacturer of tractors. We are the sole appointed importer, distributor and provider of services for the Massey Ferguson’s tractors in Nigeria. It is our responsibility to bring the right tractors into the country, the right sets to buy, to give the spare parts supports and the autos and services support.
Tractors are like the cars we use, you think of a tractor the way you think about a car, if you don’t service it properly, if you don’t protect it in the field the way you are supposed to with the right parts and properly service it, the tractor will break down on number one call. So, we are holding the structure designed to make sure that the right tractors are brought to Nigeria. The right tractor depends on the country you want to use it for, the soil, area and topography you are trying to use it for.
So, there is a special range of tractors specifically designed for each market in the world that meets the need of that market. These tractors that were imported were produced in Pakistan under a license granted by Massey Ferguson, but it is a Massey Ferguson produced tractor. It was produced by an independent company in Pakistan, they were specifically manufactured and to be used in Pakistan.
From the clock ranges, the sole types, to the complete scenario, no parts within that tractor are Massey Ferguson parts. Massey Ferguson has no control or involvement in the production of that tractor. Those tractors are not suitable in the market outside of Pakistan. The tractors are solely for Pakistan and such tractors sold in Pakistan must be produced by indigenous manufacturers. There is a limit for such tractors, because they are produced and used in Pakistan, they are not to be exported out of Pakistan.
These are the kind of tractors that we have seen in a couple of states here in Nigeria, those tractors cannot work properly and they cannot find their spare parts, those tractors will fail and we do not want to see farmers in Nigeria with failed tractors.
Roles of AGCO manufacturing company and Massey Ferguson in Nigerian mechanized farming
AGCO manufactures for Massey Ferguson and it is the world’s largest tractor manufacturers. The number one market today that AGCO is focused on is Nigeria. They are actively talking to the Federal Ministry long time ago on how they can help Nigeria increase mechanization. They are talking about how to help in line with the federal and state government policies on how to remold tractors so that they will be fitting for Nigeria, help us increase the number and qualities of agricultural support and service centers. We are about to build a new agric center in Abuja and the fundamental will focus on tractors. Few years ahead we are going to have another one in East, Lagos.
How much has been invested in Nigeria
When we started we had an investment plan in excess of $2 million. I can’t quote AGCO specifically because I know that countries come with their individual businesses, but I know that AGCO put aside $80million investment in sub-Saharan Africa, which I know that Nigeria is number one priority. We hope that in first lap of investment is expanding the number and quality of agric service centers, and this is in line with federal government policy having more farm mechanization centers.
The second stage we hope and strive that one day we are bringing the presence of AGCO to you here, because we hope that one day we will be assembling tractors in Nigeria. I know that it will be a long journey but that can happen, we have to a critical maths on the number of tractors the market will absorb. Nigeria is one of the least mechanized farming countries in the world, measured in about thousand arable lands less than Chad. Nigeria is one of the least in the world, with less then three tractors per thousand hectares which is why Nigeria imports much food.