Good Nature Agro Phiri-brothers-Farmers-receiving-equipment

Good Nature Agro (GNA) aims to introduce solar-powered borehole and irrigation systems to allow farmers to take on new crops and grow their earnings

Zambia has 3,800,000 hectares of arable land. This presents an immense opportunity for agricultural enterprises. However, land is usually expanded by clearing forests, which is something that GNA intends to limit through sustainable intensification – making the land that is already under cultivation more efficient. GNA plans to introduce solar-powered borehole and irrigation systems that will shield farmers from erratic rainfall and increase the number of farming seasons from one to two (and sometimes three) per year. This, combined with the higher-value horticultural markets that can be unlocked during dry season production, has the potential to dramatically increase grower incomes.

GNA is a for profit social enterprise that began operations in 2014. The majority of farmers in the parts of Zambia in which GNA operates are typically subsistence farmers that focus on growing maize. GNA’s aim is to improve the livelihoods of these farmers by enabling them to produce high-value legume seeds, initially produced at Good Nature Foundation Farm and then multiplied through smallholder seed farmers (of which 40% are women) contracted to GNA. Farmers can then grow higher value crops such as soya bean and groundnuts, which GNA purchases directly at centralised buying points within the farming communities, reducing their transport costs and adding to their bottom line.

However, in most areas of Zambia, it doesn’t rain between the period of mid-May and mid-October. This means that the land cultivated by each of the 26,000 farmers GNA engages is idle for six months out of the year. With support from PREO, GNA plans to create a complementary irrigation-based contract farming programme that can enable farmers to earn more than double their annual income without expanding their hectarage. Irrigation can create an additional season (or seasons) that can be used either for legumes or diversification into high-value horticultural crops such as onion.

GNA would provide direction on which crops to grow and how to maximize yield and maintain soil health, and would continue to provide the farmers with off-take market for select crops. GNA could also utilise its ‘grower rating’ system to help improve farmers’ productivity. A grower rating is a score given to each farmer based on data such as quality of crop and adoption of best practices. This score then determines the farmer’s credit limit for the next season. There is potential to translate these grower ratings into financing opportunities on CapEx equipment that unlocks the productive capacity of the six-month dry period.

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In Malawi, agriculture is mostly rain-fed. This reliance on one growing season and erratic rainfall results in unreliable yields and quality of produce.

This is compounded by limited options for post-harvest storage due, in part, to low rural electrification rates, resulting in losses of at least 30% of produce.

The project seeks to address these challenges by demonstrating the viability of an off-grid full value chain business model for the benefit of women smallholder farmers. PAC (Practical Action Consulting), in partnership with African Mini Grids (“AMG”) and Modern Farming Technologies (“MFT”), plan to develop a sustainable, vertically integrated, full value chain business model for agriculture.

The approach includes two main components: support to women farmers in the form of capacity development and access to affordable greenhouses with solar drip irrigation systems; and the development of a solar powered chill plant that increases the quantity and quality of produce available to be sold and opens up access to formal markets. As well as increasing productivity and quality of produce, the project aims to empower women, assisting them overcome constraints to land access (because greenhouses require little land), gain access to productive assets and develop new skills and confidence.

Lastly, the project aims to use renewable energy to unlock new local markets for horticultural produce that provide rural communities with new opportunities for income and livelihoods. MFT have executed a similar model in the urban setting of Mzuzu, and now want to demonstrate it in an off-grid environment within rural Northern Malawi. They will work with the Ujazi Cultural Conservation Group, ad women’s co-operative located at Chintheche in Nhkata Bay District.

Boat on a river

Equatorial Power, Mobilizing Electricity for Productive End Uses and Fishermen eMobility in Lake Victoria

The project focuses on mobilizing electricity for productive use through the promotion of electric mobility for fishing in Lolwe Island of Lake Victoria. The plan is to pilot approximately 20 electric boats for fishing with charging hubs that will be connected to the solar mini-grid installed on the island.

The intended outcomes are

  1. Eliminating the use of petrol and reduced operating costs for fishing,
  2. Demonstrate a viable anchor load for the mini-grid on the island, and
  3. Creating local employment opportunities through a productive use charging hub on the island.

The expected impacts are

  1. Improving economic livelihoods among those who directly or indirectly depend upon fishing, through improved fishing value proposition and job creation.
  2. Strengthening the business case for a sustainable mini-grid in this community through increased productive energy uptake (and securing the indirect benefits of clean, reliable, and plentiful electricity),
  3. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the vital economic activity of fishing. 

This paper addresses the need for reliable energy access for businesses to enable the productive use of clean energies. In addition, the paper presents case studies from nine African countries to show promising ways to successfully engage in rural developing areas for entrepreneurs, NGOs, investors and policymakers. ARE believes that these examples can also be used as showcase examples in other parts of the developing world.

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The 2018 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report is the fourth report in a biennial series established over the past 8 years as the report of record for the off-grid solar industry. The publication takes stock of the industry across six axes: market fundamentals, sales, the competitive landscape, finance, the enabling environment, and impact. 

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With the publication of this catalogue, the BMZ-funded GIZ sector program ‘Basic Energy Services (HER A)’ provides a market overview of DC-powered appliances, use-ful for developing and strengthening business activities in rural areas. This 1st Edition does not claim to provide a conclusive and comprehensive picture but rather to offer an overview of selected appliances available on the market today, complemented with elemental technical details, established distribution channels and, where possible, practical experiences from the field. The catalogue is directed at practitioners and public and private sector actors promotion

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Rural electrification programs are generally motivated by the effective and lasting impacts that they are expected to generate in the field. While there may be some natural trickle down effect from the massive investments required to reach high rates of rural electrification, spontaneous positive effects on social and economic development are generally limited by a number of local bottlenecks. 

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