Promoting integration of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in agricultural value chains

Promoting integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency in agricultural value chains

Improving access to productive use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies increases agricultural productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers (SHFs) and agribusinesses, builds resilience to climate change, and supports the reduction of emissions from agricultural activity by eliminating the use of fossil fuels.

The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) Project promotes the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in the East Africa region, as part of its overall climate smart services integration pathway to building resilient food value chains.

This is achieved through continued awareness raising, capacity building of agriSMEs and cooperatives, organisation of cross-learning events and technology demonstrations, as well as giving business development support (such as energy audit services) to project validated business cases.

OKEBA Ltd shifting to renewable energy

A critical area of investment from CRAFT’s supported agribusinesses has been in the post-harvest process of drying. Many have invested in drying tarpaulins to reduce moisture when stored, which enhances quality of seeds and grains.

Some SHFs can deliver quality dried grains to collection centres, but the grains may then be compromised by others that are not compliant. One business case, OKEBA Ltd, has been able to ensure uniformity in moisture content after drying by purchasing 40 solar-powered bubble dryers for soybean drying at its collection centres.

The dryers not only achieve a uniform drying moisture but also enable faster drying of increased volume of grain at a time, as well as ease of the drying process when rains are experienced during harvesting seasons. Additionally, they reduce farmer labour needs and drudgrey, especially for female farmers who are highly involved in post harvest activities.

“We have been able to secure and fulfil a procurement order to supply Makerere University Soybean Seed Aggregator with quality soybean seed of up to 20 metric tonnes due to use of solar powered bubble dryers. This is now a confirmed annual market for all our farmers engaged in seed growing, thanks to CRAFT support and training,” shares Nezephor Aliganyira – CRAFT Project Coordinator, OKEBA Ltd.

Global Traders Ltd moves to solar power

Global Traders Ltd, another CRAFT supported agriSME, has shifted its lighting load to solar PV and is planning to replace four electrically powered exhaust fans with turbo ventilators in its sunflower reception and storage area, as well as sanction the use of translucent sheets.

This was as a result of an energy efficiency audit undertaken by CRAFT to identify efficient and sustainable opportunities towards reduced energy costs and resilience building for the business case.

The above, among other identified energy management opportunities have contributed to a reduction in the Global Trader’s electricity bill by 20%, building the company’s resilience to unreliable and costly grid electricity. The change has also contributed to reduction of emissions, thereby mitigating climate change.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency integration into agribusiness should be cultivated as a culture, a new-normal for agro-industries to thrive based on a cost-effective, resilient and low-carbon pathway,” says Jacob Etunganan, CRAFT.

Written by: Sandra Nassali (CRAFT Communications Officer)
More information: Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) is a five-year project, implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with focus on three pillars; increasing adoption of climate smart practices and technologies amongst farmers and agro-enterprises; increasing investments and business growth in climate smart value chains; and creating enabling environment necessary to ensure large-scale roll-out of market driven climate smart agriculture. The project is passionate about women and youth inclusion as one of the indicators seeks to increase the number of women and youth employed in the private sector. The cross-cutting workstream for gender and youth inclusion emphasizes targeted interventions where needed, to ensure equity and inclusion through a sustainable gender sensitive climate smart service provision.