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Planting the seed www.agriwes.com


Planting the seed In the last few years, agricultural chemical supplier Agri-Wes (Zambia) has recently branched out into the farming machinery market. CEO Nico De Kock tells us how the company — and Zambia's agricultural industry as a whole — has changed since Agri-Wes (Z) was first established.

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n agronomist by trade, Nico De Kock left South Africa over twenty years ago to pursue opportunities in the Zambian agricultural industry. By January 1995, he had established a base for Agri-Wes (Z) in FarmCentre Mkushi, and has been supplying agricultural chemicals and seeds to farmers ever since. “Everyone thought we were mad for going there,” he tells us. “It was a very small place with maybe thirty farmers. But since then we've grown, and Mkushi's grown, and Zambia's grown — and we did not foresee it, at that stage.” Zambia has changed dramatically over the

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past two decades, going from having virtually no infrastructure to being one of the most urbanised countries in Southern Africa. The Minister of Local Government and Housing recently predicted that the majority of people in Zambia will be living in cities and towns by 2030, and with the population also on the rise, sustainable urban development is now a serious priority. “When we first came here, the main road was one big pothole from Luskaka,” says De Kock. “It was so bad you could barely drive. Today the roads are quite good, but the problem we've got now is that there's too much traffic. The country has grown so

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much and the road structure has struggled to keep up with that, but at least you can drive, albeit slowly and in heavy traffic.” Agri-Wes is a distributor for some of the most respected chemical companies in the world, including Syngenta, Villa Crop, and Arysta. In 2012, Agri-Wes branched out from chemicals and into the world of machinery and began distributing Vaderstad Verken machines and spare parts. “We got our first sale after about a year of representing them,” De Kock tells us. “It takes time to gain the confidence of the farmers.”

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The success of the Vaderstad products prompted Agri-Wes to expand on their machinery range, and in September 2014, they became the official Zambian dealership for CLAAS farming machinery. “It's a major addition to our business. We've basically got two divisions now. There are a lot of challenges involved in starting a new business, so we decided to keep it as one company and run it as two divisions,” he explains. “There is already some CLAAS equipment in Zambia, but not a lot. CLAAS had quite a bad name as far as backup service is concerned. Machinery was sold in Zambia, but servicing and support were hard to come by. Most people know they're very good products but the support service was poor. It's our job to convince people


We get help from CLAAS Germany and we work through Kempston Agri, which is the CLAAS importer into Southern Africa,” ... “Our relationship with both of them is fairly close, and communication is pretty quick. Kempston have a representative who visits Zambia quite regularly.”

For Financial Advisory and Business SolutionsTailored to the Agricultural Industry Contact: +260 977 824 834 +260 978 002 050 +260 977 362 388 Email: feranticonsulting@gmail.com Mkushi Farm Block , Zambia


that we will be able to deliver this service.” Agri-Wes' reputation for reliability, integrity, product availability and customer service has been a point of pride for the past 20 years, and positions them as the ideal company to handle the servicing and support of CLAAS machines. “We get help from CLAAS Germany and we work through Kempston Agri, which is the CLAAS importer into Southern Africa,” says De Kock. “Our relationship with both of them is fairly close, and communication is pretty quick. Kempston have a representative who visits Zambia quite regularly.”

Everyone thought we were mad for going there,” ... “It was a very small place with maybe thirty farmers. But since then we've grown, and Mkushi's grown, and Zambia's grown - and we did not foresee it, at that stage.”

going to be a slow growth, and maybe that's a good thing because then we can grow with it. It's sustainable. If you get a flash in the pan and sell twenty machines in one go, things can become difficult.”

Machinery may be new ground for familyrun Agri-Wes, but it's a challenge they've faced responsibly. “It's been a big learning curve,” says De Kock. “Repairing machines is not an area I've got experience in, but my son is very technical-minded and he's running that division of the business.” Up next for Agri Wes is the possibility of opening a workshop in Lusaka. Most CLAAS customers are based around Lusaka and Southern Zambia, and Agri Wes already has an office there where spare parts can be purchased. The company is also busy with an advertising campaign, designed to raise its visibility and profile within the Zambian market. “Overall, things are going well. Zambia's agricultural economy is under pressure and we've got a couple of challenges — for example, we don't have big capital, which limits the number of machines we can have immediately available,” explains De Kock. “I see the business growing as people get more convinced that we are here to stay and we can deliver service. I suspect it's

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Contact Details Contact our office in South Africa Farm 3168 Mkushi, Zambia

Tel:

+260-965122212

E-mail: admin@aw-equip.com cdk@agriwes.com

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