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SAHARA EXPO 2008: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ITALIAN TRACTORS
The figures on Italy’s leadership in the agricultural machinery sector speak for themselves, with companies associated with the sector responsible for over 60% of Europe's production. The Italian tradition in this field has almost a century of history. Indeed, in 1927, the Italians Francesco and Eugenio Cassani, founders of the company Same, now the Same Deutz-Fahr Group (one of the top five global operators in the agricultural machinery sector), created the first diesel engine applied to a tractor. The agricultural mechanisation market, which is has reached an advanced stage of development in Europe and the United States, also offers extremely interesting prospects in other parts of the world where working the land is still dependant on human or animal labour.
Italy’s presence in 2008 at the coming 21st edition of the Sahara Expo trade fair (www.saharaexpo.com), to be held in Egypt from 9th to 12th July, is evidence of the country’s desire to dominate an area (North Africa) whose agricultural machinery market is expected to develop rapidly over the next few years. Reliable estimates indicate the number of tractors currently present in Africa’s four most advanced States (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa) at 18 per thousand hectares, which is lower than in Western countries (28 tractors per thousand hectares) and gives reason to believe in the potential of this business. Egypt, in particular, is the leading country within North Africa in terms of both the number of inhabitants (72 million) and the extent of the internal market. The country’s agricultural programme has also set itself ambitious targets, namely to cultivate 1.8 million feddans (local unit of measure equal to approximately 1.038 acres or 4,200 square metres) over then next few years with an average of no less than 150,000 feddans per year.
Italian-made tractors and walking tractors will be exhibited at Sahara Expo 2008 in a “Sistema Italia” section organised by the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) in collaboration with the Italian union of agricultural machinery manufacturers, Unacoma . Italy exported 3.11 million euros worth of this machinery to Egypt in 2007, a slight increase on the previous year (+0.55% with a total value increase of 17,000 euros). These figures are still low, constituting just 0.24% of Italy's total export in this market category. The challenge for the Italian agricultural mechanisation industry is to align Egypt with the other world market averages. In 2007, Italian machinery exports recorded an increase in value of 5.6% for tractors and 7.6% for other types of machinery.
Emerging economies like Egypt’s are the Italian industry’s primary target for export. Indeed, in March 2008, the General Federation of Italian Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding with Unacoma committing the two organisations to cooperation projects in developing countries, training of agricultural technicians and analysis of agricultural enterprise models and the demand for technologies (such as electronic and satellite systems for controlling the working and integration several functions in a single machine) in different parts of the world.