SVRG is carrying this project out jointly with our partners in Uganda, social enterprise EcoLife Foods, and community NGO Kiima Foods. This project is funded by InnovateUK, the UK’s Innovation Agency under the Energy Catalyst Round 7 programme.
Post-harvest food loss compromises food security, farmers’ livelihoods and the environment. Cold storage can significantly reduce post-harvest losses, enabling farmers to keep produce for longer, aggregate together, and improve profits by accessing higher-value markets. However, cold storage facilities are inaccessible to most rural, off-grid farming communities in Uganda.
This project aims to test and validate a novel integrated business model that combines community mini-grids with innovative ‘Farmer’s Enterprise Centres’ (FECs) as anchor loads (powering a range of solar-power electrical services), in order both to optimise the performance, sustainability and affordability or the mini-grid, as well as to improve the ability of the local community to pay for the energy services.
These ‘anchor load’ centres (FECs) comprise a suite of electricity-catalysed technologies for improving yields, reducing post-harvest losses and improving profits; including irrigation pumps, improved data, cold storage, drying and agri-processing technologies.
We predict that this anchor client usage of electricity from the minigrid, and the increased economic return to community farmers, will combine to improve the long term commercial viability and sustainability of the mini-grids for community energy access. Since an overwhelming majority of rural communities in Uganda and beyond have agriculture as their central livelihood activity, communities will make use of a Farmers’ Enterprise Centre. This innovative combination of a minigrid that comes with its own anchor load should result in a faster, more sustainable and commercially viable roll-out of mini-grids and energy access across rural communities in Uganda and elsewhere in the Global South.