(Reuters) AGCO Corp, the world's third-largest maker of tractors and combines, plans to more than triple sales in Africa by 2020 as the continent boosts food production, its managing director for Africa and the Middle East said.

African sales for the U.S. farm equipment manufacturer are expected to top $1 billion by 2020, Nuradin Osman told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

AGCO has a global sales target of $8.5 billion for 2011 and expects Africa to contribute 3%, Osman said.

"We plan to have Africa contribute 10% to global sales by 2020," Osman said, adding that with mechanisation, Africa could feed itself and help meet food needs for the rest of the world, as the global population grows.

Total tractor sales in the whole of Africa reached 70,000 in 2010 compared with 60,000 for Brazil alone in the same year, he added.

Africa is expected to boost investment in agriculture to defeat hunger and meet the changing dietary demands of people as household incomes rise, he said.

"I think there will be plenty of (donor) money toward agricultural development and that area will have significant growth," Osman said, adding that food prices were expected to remain high.

AGCO's presence in Africa is currently through agents but the company plans to change that by opening a training centre in Zambia to cater for the whole continent.

Osman said large-scale commercial farmers would be offered training courses on tractors and harvesting equipment at the 100-hectare model farm, which is expected to become operational in 2012.