Enhancing farmers’ access and usage of affordable Solar technology Solutions 

Enhancing farmers’ access and usage of affordable Solar technology Solutions 

In effort to enhance the adoption and usage of solar technologies to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers, Innovation Village, in partnership with Agri Share Uganda, last week, held an AgriSolar community engagement in Luweero District. 

The event brought together farmers and AgriSolar innovators to identify actionable solutions, strategies, and tactical approaches for unlocking opportunities and increasing access to affordable solar technologies within last-mile communities in the district. 

Rebecca Nabossa, Program Associate at Innovation Village, said that the engagement aimed to create synergies among players within the AgriSolar ecosystem to drive the adoption and usage of solar innovation in farming communities, ultimately boosting farmers’ productivity and increasing their profitability. 

“While solar innovation is often pitched as a solution to challenges in the agriculture sector, there remains a substantial lack of awareness and utilization among farmers. Additionally, there is often a disconnect between the innovative AgriSolar solutions available and the actual needs of farmers,” Nabossa said. 

Adding, this engagement aimed to facilitate direct interaction between solar technology innovators and farmers, deepening the innovators’ understanding of the real challenges farmers face in adopting solar technology. This interaction fosters a sense of collaboration and opportunities for customized solutions, allowing innovators to refine technologies based on direct user feedback, and implements a follow-up plan for ongoing communication. 

“We believe that by bringing these stakeholders together, we can bridge the information gap between technology solutions and on-the-ground agricultural needs. This will foster collaboration and innovation in integrating solar technologies into farming practices,” Nabossa added. 

The feedback gathered from this engagement will be embedded into the AgriSolar Product Accelerate program, an initiative run by Innovation Village in collaboration with the MoTT Foundation. The program offers a product development and refinement journey designed for solution providers building use cases and incorporating solar technologies across the agriculture value chains of dairy, aquaculture, and horticulture. 

Paul Zaake, the Founder of Agri Share Uganda and participant in the AgriSolar Accelerator Program, highlighted the massive impact of climate change on farmers. “Through AgriShare, an innovative application-based platform, we connect farmers to a vast database of agricultural machinery, equipment, and resources. Farmers can hire irrigation and processing equipment, land, farm workers, and tractors,” Zaake said. 

“Through AgriShare, farmers can hire solar-powered irrigation pumps for about UGX 30,000 per day. This is more affordable compared to buying upfront at UGX 3M plus other annual maintenance costs. “This hiring model enables farmers to only pay for the few times they need to use the equipment, eliminating the high purchase and maintenance costs.” 

Through this approach, farmers can affordably irrigate crops, especially at critical stages, without the need to invest in purchasing the irrigation systems,” Zaake emphasized. 

Edward Ceasar, a tomato farmer in Luweero district and beneficiary of Agri Share Uganda, shared his experience: “The irrigation pumps hired to us by AgriShare have increased my productivity and efficiency. What used to take me over four to five hours with a watering can, I can now do in less than an hour with the irrigation pumps.” However, he noted that the cost of hiring the irrigation pumps remains high for ordinary farmers. 

To scale further, Zaake said, he needs to raise more capital and open partnership linkages with actors in the agriculture and ICT sectors. “We need more funds to accelerate our technology. As you know, fundraising in Africa for a business in the agriculture sector is even more difficult. So, there is a need for more innovative funding towards innovations like AgriShare,” he added.