Economic Survey: Charting road map for faster growth
Hindustan Times The Economic Survey 2018-19 has called for harnessing technologies suited to small-sized farms and recommended adoption of micro-irrigation systems to improve water use efficiency. “One of the key aspects which can improve productivity of small farm holdings is improving resource use efficiency (one of the sources of income growth identified by the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income),” the Survey states. According to the report, the next big input or resource for farmers will be digital technologies. To facilitate communication and reduce transaction costs, information technology applications can be “crucial in smallholder farming”. The spread of mobile phones in rural areas has already impacted the way the small and marginal farmers get access to information about soil health, weather and prices. Digital technologies can facilitate market access, financial inclusion and contribute significantly to early warning signals that are critical for the development of the smallholder community. Technology can play a critical role in bridging the information gaps that exist in agricultural markets, a key reason why farmers often don’t get profitable prices. “There is a major concern whether the present practice of groundwater use can be sustained as the depth of the groundwater level continues to drop. By 2050, India will be in the global hot spot for ‘water insecurity’,” the Survey states. States with penetration and improved adoption of micro-irrigation have almost 40 to 50% savings in energy and fertilizer consumption, the Survey said. It also said a combination of measures which suit the local agro-economic context need to be applied to improve irrigation productivity in agriculture which would reflect sustainable water use in agriculture. “In this regard, focus in agriculture should shift from ‘land productivity’ to ‘irrigation water productivity’. Therefore, devising policies to incentivise farmers to adopt efficient ways of water use should become a national priority to avert the looming water crisis,” it said. In India, according to the Asian Water Development Outlook, 2016, almost 89% of groundwater extracted is for irrigation. The survey also states that the cropping pattern in the country was skewed towards crops that guzzle more water. “Adopting improved methods of irrigation and irrigation technologies will have a critical role in increasing irrigation water productivity along with re-calibrating the cropping patterns... adoption of micro-irrigation systems is one of the possible ways to improve water use efficiency,” it said.
Helping Africa’s Smallholders Feed the World
Usman Ali Lawan, an Aspen New Voices fellow, is CEO and Chief “Farmer in Suit” at USAIFA International Limited Sustainable Development Goal 2 – which aims to end hunger by 2030 – is achievable. But it will require a commitment from both governments and the private sector to help rural farmers shift to sustainable – and profitable – agricultural practices. KEFFI, NIGERIA – In the rural village of Kura in Kano State, Nigeria, where I grew up, my grandfather would lose more than half of his tomatoes after each harvest. He was not a bad farmer. But bad roads made it difficult for him to get his tomatoes to market, and he had never learned modern methods of preserving them. In an effort to salvage some of his produce, he often dried his tomatoes on the sand. This is still true of about 80 million rural farmers in Nigeria. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, as much as 50% of fruits and vegetables, 40% of roots and tubers, and 20% of cereals, legumes, and pulses harvested are before they reach a market. Less than a half-mile away from a major in Kadawa, Kano, Nigeria, some 200 rural farmers dry over 40 trailer-loads of fresh tomatoes in the sand every week. This lack of knowledge and resources among rural farmers contributes substantially to global food insecurity. After all, in the developing world, rural smallholders – most of whom own less than four hectares of farmland – comprise the majority of all farmers. In fact, rural people of the world’s food, yet they constitute 80% of the world’s poor. Delivering enough food to feed the world’s population requires farmers to overcome a series of often-unpredictable challenges, related to factors such as climate change, water scarcity, lack of access to extension services, and armed conflict in agricultural areas. As a result of these challenges, millions of people have been driven from their homes, prevented from working their fields, unable to get their products to markets, or cut off from supplies of improved seedlings, fertilizer, and financial services. And the challenges continue to escalate. The number of food emergencies – when disasters such as drought, floods, or war lead to food-supply shortfalls that demand external assistance – from 15 per year, on average, in the 1980s to more than 30 per year since 2000. The result is widespread food insecurity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 820 million people worldwide to sufficient food in 2017; more than two billion people experience deficiencies of key micronutrients; and more than half of the people living in low-income countries are not sure where their next meal will come from. If current trends hold, the amount of food being grown only half of the world population by 2050. But these trends can be changed – and Africa is a good place to start. As Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and winner of the 2017 World Food Prize, has it, “Africa in the future should not only feed itself but it must contribute to feeding the world.” Any strategy to boost food security must emphasize increasing productivity and reducing post-harvest losses. To that end, governments and agro-processing companies should each be doing their part to advance cost-effective measures that take advantage of new technologies, strengthen infrastructure, and offer training and support to rural smallholders. Governments, through their various agricultural programs, can help rural farmers to form cooperatives, where they can leverage their collective strength. Private firms, for their part, can provide those farmers with extension services and inputs, and serve as major bulk buyers of produce. This is a proven approach. In Kebbi State, Nigeria, the Anchor Borrower scheme for the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria – implemented in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria and a government loan program – has boosted rural farmers’ output and incomes, by helping them to form cooperatives, providing training and inputs, and guaranteeing a buyer. When designing any such scheme, policymakers must make sure to promote sustainable farming practices that minimize agriculture’s use of natural resources, including soil and water. All governments should commit to ensuring that their agriculture, food, and nutrition policies are aligned with modern dietary guidelines, which emphasize variety and sustainability in largely plant-based diets. The international community’s goal of by 2030 is achievable. But success will require a commitment from both governments and the private sector to help rural farmers shift to sustainable – and profitable – agricultural practices. If that happens, then not only will we end food insecurity; Adesina’s prediction that “the next generation of billionaires in Africa will be farmers” may come closer to being realized.
The role of solar lights and solar home systems in modern day disaster relief
Aletta D'cruz, Digital Content and Communications Associate, Googla Just over three weeks ago, Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and caused extreme rainfall, flooding and high winds in Malawi. With more than in these regions, the destruction witnessed in the aftermath of this natural disaster has been devasting. Relief camps set up in old buildings and tents across the three countries have been bringing temporary relief to the displaced. However, when lives are thrown into chaos by natural disasters, basic needs are snatched away – one of which is access to safe and reliable energy. While many NGOs and local aid organizations power their relief camps with the help of battery-operated lights and fossil fuel-run generators, the route to accessing resources to keep the flow of energy constant is not an easy one. A couple of GOGLA members displayed the benefits of renewable energy and off-grid solar in such situations, as they joined relief work in Zimbabwe and Malawi. Seeing the need for immediate lighting within a number of relief camps, , and launched into action to meet this need locally in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi respectively. All three companies, who ordinarily do not partake in emergency response, provided local NGOs and aid agencies with solar lights and solar home systems to help light up their camps. Located in Mozambique, SolarWorks! experienced loss close to home with around 35 team members losing their homes. Their effort to provide relief started with offering temporary shelter to these team members and their immediate families within their offices. SolarWorks! also partnered with GIZ, Save the Children, Omnivoltaic and EDP Renewables to supply solar home systems to relief camps and shelters across the country. SolarAid, on the other hand, decided to join relief efforts in Southern Malawi after they heard about the devastation in the area from their social enterprise, SunnyMoney’s staff, and sales agents. In collaboration with local authorities and the Malawi Red Cross, a distribution plan for solar lights and solar home systems was developed. Photo by: Solar Aid
What will 2018 bring for off-grid solar systems
By Evie Harrison 2018 is the year of renewable energy resources. All around the world, people from all walks of life are looking for alternative energy sources not only because fossil fuels are running out, but also because they want to live clean lives. At the same time that electric cars making waves in various parts of the world, people have started to look to the sky for solar power. According to stats, solar power systems have experienced a sales , mostly due to the residents and businesses installing panels in China and America.Although fossil fuel energy consumption is decreasing, most people are still unaware of the benefits of going completely off-grid. It’s common knowledge that investing in a solar system will lead , they don’t know that there is a way to stop the utility bills once and for all. You can easily depend on other resources for power and electricity. 2018 has a lot to offer for off-grid systems and has developed tremendously. Before diving in, however, it is important to k what off-grid solar systems are and whether or not they will be beneficial for you. So, without further delay, let’s look at what an off-the-grid system is. Photo by: royalty free image
The Innovative Light Up Kwara Project Comes Alive
By Dr Dickson Aleroh MChem(Hons) MSc PhD Following the signing of the technical/financial agreement by Riccofortezza-Asteven Energy Limited (an SPV made up of Riccofortezza Nigeria Limted and Asteven International Limited) and the Kwara State Government on the second day of the month of February 2017 in Ilorin, Kwara State, great strides have been made towards the anticipated completion of the innovative solar project. Such is the progress that has been made that phases 1 & 2, which involves the installation of over 500 single-arm and 240 double-arm LED solar street lights have been completed. The aforementioned installations are mainly concentrated within the Ilorin metropolis with subsequent phases to include the rural regions (Offa, Omaran, Patigi, Ajashe e.t.c) of the state. Much of the emphasis is now fully focused on the installation of the first on-road solar mini-grid system (aka. solar PV farm tunnel (SFT)) to be constructed by two indigenous companies in Africa with over 390 kW combined capacity. Photo by Dr Dickson Aleroh