Most food loss happens unintentionally between harvest and distribution, meaning a high proportion of food grown never makes it to the market. But appliances such as refrigerators can help keep produce fresh, mills can help process grains, and irrigation can help crops grow.
Smallholder farmers living in the global south produce up to one third of the world’s food. Many of these farmers lack access to technologies that could help them avoid food losses. Appliances and technologies for farming are often too expensive for low-income farmers, and the electricity connection is too unstable to power them reliably.
Innovative and affordable solar-powered agricultural technologies offer a solution, enabling farmers to access reliable electricity, improve crop yields, and earn a better living. We’ve rounded up our favourite innovations that are helping to reduce hunger worldwide.
Solar water pumps
Droughts and unpredictable weather can impact crop yields for farmers. Solar water pumps provide a clean energy solution for these challenges, enabling farmers to harvest more food and earn reliable incomes. Wala works with farmers to improve access to solar irrigation for agriculture.
The company’s pilot project in Malawi also provides farmers with holistic solutions, including training and financing support. Its project is supported by the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund, which is funded by UK aid and the IKEA Foundation.
Crops must be processed with appliances such as grain mills after being harvested to prepare them for sale. Many crops are grown in rural areas and the equipment required for processing is located far away, leading to food losses during transportation.
In 2019, the World Food Programme (WFP), an Efficiency for Access Donor Coalition member, established a cooperative in Armenia for farmers. The support includes a ‘fee for service’ model where farmers can access solar-powered processing equipment.
Learn more about this technology in Efficiency for Access and WFP’s blog post here.
Walk-in cold rooms
Fruit and vegetables will spoil if they are not transported to refrigerators or sold soon after harvesting. Much produce is lost during transportation from rural farms to the nearest markets for sale.
Ecolife in Uganda is developing on-farm storage that keeps fruit and vegetables fresh for over a week. This innovation will reduce food losses and improve smallholder farmers’ incomes, by allowing them to get a higher price for their product at the market.
Lake Turkana in Kenya is the source of many fisherpeople’s incomes. For many fisherfolks, the closest markets are in towns that are hundreds of kilometres away. This means that they must dry their catch to keep it viable for sale at the market.
Adili Solar Hubs is developing a solar-powered ice flake machine with an integrated water purification unit. By producing ice with clean water at the shore, this ice-flake machine will help local fisherpeople keep their produce fresh, avoid food loss, and result in a higher sale price compared to dried fish. This will enhance the livelihoods of fisherpeople and their families in remote villages. What’s more, the water purification unit will provide fresh, safe drinking water for locals.
Did you know that changing temperatures driven by global warming can impact poultry egg fertilisation around the world? OVO Solar is developing egg incubators that are stackable and automatically regulate temperature, humidity and air exchange. Its project is supported by the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund.
The incubators will be sold with Pay As You Go financing, meaning farmers can initially make a small down payment and then pay monthly until their incubator is paid in full. This will enable farmers to use their incubator to generate further income and re-invest their profit by purchasing additional egg tray modules.
By 2050, 70% more food will need to be produced to feed the world’s growing population. Climate change causes unstable growing seasons and varied weather patterns, which adds further strain to our global food systems.