Matrix Agritech, Your Partner in Agribusiness
Robert Asscheman, Director of Holland's Matrix Agritech, answers questions from our magazine
Mr. Asscheman, this is the first time Matrix Agritech has appeared on our pages. Could you tell our readers about its focus of activities?
I would like to stress that Matrix Agritech is the first and at present the only supplier of comprehensive solutions for the agricultural and agro-industrial sector in the CIS countries. Having formed part of Cebeco International Projects B.V. until 2002, today our company is a member of the Matrix group of companies. It has inherited more than a century of experience in growing, storing, processing and selling farm produce.
We supply agricultural and agro-industrial equipment made by major manufacturers to CIS markets. Matrix Agritech is an authorised dealer for companies such as AGRIFAC (Holland), Lemken (Germany), Zanello (Argentina), Dairy Master (Ireland), Kuhn (France), Ezee-On (Canada), Schmid (Germany), Meko (Holland), Steketee (Holland) and De Boer (Holland).
The head office of our company is in the Netherlands. We also have customer support centres and sales offices in eight oblasts of Russia and in Kazakhstan. The total staff comprises 125 persons at the time being.
We began working in Kazakhstan in 1991 when we signed the first large contract with your government to supply equipment for growing potatoes and sugar beet. Today, 13 years later, we have offices in Almaty and Astana and representatives in Kokshetau, Petropavlovsk and Kostanai. Alongside supplying equipment as a dealer, Matrix Agritech is implementing its own agricultural project in the country. Astra, our sister company engaged in growing Dutch seed potatoes, has been operating successfully in the Karaganda oblast since 1997.
What equipment and machinery do you supply to Kazakh customers?
We focus on three main areas in Kazakhstan. The first is equipment and technology for production and storage of cereals (tractors, combine harvesters by leading manufacturers, tillage and sowing units, and grain elevators by Schmid among others).
For the southern regions of the country we offer a broad range of equipment for growing industrial crops such as sugar beet, soybean and corn. The equipment is mainly manufactured by Holland's AGRIFAC. For instance, in October 2004 3,000 hectares of sugar beet were harvested in the Almaty oblast using combines made by this company.
Matrix Agritech has a wide experience of establishing cattle-breeding complexes, including supplying Dutch cattle, milking and stock-keeping equipment, and storage of forage and fodder. Milk processing plants that we have been supplying to Kazakhstan for already 10 years are being effectively operated today and enhance their capacities.
This year, we have embarked on a new product line in Kazakhstan: equipment for poultry farms. It should be noted that Matrix Agritech provides complete, integrated solutions, including fodder plants, VDL Agrotech equipment for poultry yards, turnkey incubators by Chickmaster and poultry processing lines by Joop Meyn Technology.
What is the maintenance and support system for the equipment and machinery you supply?
Since reliable equipment is a crucial element of an effective agricultural enterprise, the services we provide include commissioning the equipment supplied, warranty and post-warranty maintenance and prompt supply of spare parts and materials.
We have established a broad infrastructure of customer support centres, warehouses and mobile service groups in the majority of the regions we work in. In Kazakhstan we have customer support centres and warehouses in Kokshetau and Almaty. All our mechanics and engineers were trained at manufacturers' training centres. Servicing vehicles equipped with all the essential tools allow maintenance and repair on the spot, in field conditions. To minimise equipment failures due to improper operation, we make sure that customers' equipment operators receive practical training. At the end of the day, all these measures help customers to utilise fully the potential of the equipment they purchase from us.
What are the factors that give Matrix Agritech this competitive edge in the Kazakh market?
I believe the secret lies in our philosophy of always working for our customers and making sure that their business runs well. By providing progressive agricultural technology and equipment to the local market, we see our task as giving customers the best possible benefits. Close co-operation with international financial institutions helps us to attract foreign loans and credits for a period of 5-7 years under guarantees by Kazakhstani banks. Co-operation has been established with leasing companies such as KazAgroFinance and Astana-Finance. The schemes that we have developed provide an opportunity of 100% financing without prepayment and up to one year's postponement of payment. In addition, Matrix Agritech can raise funds for circulating capital, which is crucial for agriculture given its special features.
Meanwhile, agribusiness is not just equipment supplies and maintenance. We also provide consultancy, helping to boost the efficiency of agricultural and agro-industrial production. Visiting European agronomists and technologists help our customers to implement all the technological steps in growing and processing crops properly. Agricultural producers who use our equipment, and fully meet all technical requirements, usually have stable harvests each year.
What is your company's outlook for working in Kazakhstan? What new products do you plan to introduce in the near future?
The segment of the local market that we work in has been growing at a pace of an average of 50% per year recently. Your major agricultural companies are increasingly oriented towards Western-made equipment due to its multi-functionality and reliability. It is also important that the state supports agriculture, ensuring considerable financial support to this sector. This is why we are quite optimistic about the prospects of doing business here.
As for new products, I would like to introduce some of them to you, all the more so because this is a good time for selling tractors and seeders. In autumn 2004 at an agricultural exhibition in Astana we presented the Argentinean-produced Zanello tractor for the first time; this model has long been known in the US, Canada and Europe and at the same time is perfectly adapted to Kazakhstan's conditions. Depending on the model and engine power – ranging from 80 to 425 horsepower – the Zanello can be a wonderful alternative to the K700 or MTZ. These reliable tractors are easy to operate and maintain, work with any agricultural tool and are far cheaper than their Western-made equivalents.
Another novelty is combine harvesters by the Argentinean Don Roque. In terms of productive capacity and reability they are comparable with the US and European-made combines, while the technical parameters of Don Roque combines meet the world standards. It is also significant that the available range of Don Roque models can satisfy the needs of both large and small agricultural business.
· Models: 700C, 500C, 540C, 580C
· Engine power: 335, 206, 247, 267 horsepower (ECE-R24)
· BOSCH hydraulic system
· Three-point hitch
· Power shaft 540-1000 rpm
· Twin front and rear wheels
· Air-conditioned and heated cab
Don Roque multipurpose combine harvesters
· Engine: 180-320 horsepower
· Grain tank capacity: 5,250-10,250 l
· Grain header: up to 9.1 m
· Soybean, corn, sunflower and other headers
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