Improving incomes in the banana sector using solar energy

48 companies in the banana value chain will soon benefit from better production conditions: With the installation of pumping systems, cold chain, and processing units that will be powered by solar energy. These companies will thus improve the quality of their product and increase their income.

The production and marketing of bananas is a complex process. Indeed, bananas spoil very quickly, especially if they do not receive enough water during their growth because of the cost of the fuel that powers the motor pumps used in the area. In Senegal’s hot and dry climate, the degradation process progresses even faster than elsewhere.

This affects the quality and therefore the price of the banana produced, which is almost half the price of imported bananas.

Those who are able to irrigate their banana plantations sufficiently during the growing phase with solar energy pumps and who can still produce banana grain or soap from sorted bananas at the end of the process are therefore at a distinct advantage and earn much more with better quality products. However, producers need to have a more affordable production cost for this.

Solar electrification of the banana value chain and nine socio-community centres

In collaboration with Energy4Impact, Green People’s Energy Senegal supports the banana cooperative APROVAG around Tambacounda on the Gambia River to electrify the activity of some member groups with solar energy. APROVAG produces about 10 % of the annual banana crop in Senegal.

The project started with the launching workshop on 6 May 2021 in Tambacounda and will have a duration of one year for its implementation. Under this project, it is the installation of solar irrigation systems at the profile of 42 banana producers. As irrigation is currently carried out using diesel pumps with very high operating costs, the project will significantly reduce production costs. At the same time, the farmers will be able to increase their production capacity and the quality of their product as they will be able to irrigate longer over a larger area with the solar pumps.

The project will then support the electrification of three APROVAG processing and packaging centres. This will allow APROVAG to extend working hours (even during the night) and to have sufficient water in these units. This is a decisive step towards a higher processing speed of fast perishable bananas, which leads to a better quality of the final product and a better rationalisation of transport. This saves producers money while allowing them to charge higher prices, which will significantly increase their income.

As a third measure, the project supports APROVAG in the acquisition of equipment for productive use in three APROVAG processing centres such as refrigerators, dryers, mills, packaging machines, printers and computers. This will also considerably increase the quantity and quality of banana products such as chips, cereals or banana soap. Thanks to better packaging, the cooperative will be able to expand its distribution channels and increase its selling prices.

Throughout the electrification process, the banana producers and the staff, mainly women, of the packing and processing centres will be trained in production methods, entrepreneurship, and basic technical aspects. In this way, the project aims to ensure a long-term increase in productivity and profitability, as well as the longevity of these facilities.

In addition to strengthening the economic living conditions in the banana growing area, it is also important for the sustainability of the development process to improve the social conditions of the inhabitants of these villages. To this end, the project will also electrify five primary schools, two secondary schools, a health centre, and a borehole using solar energy.