Solar training for agricultural coaches

Solar-powered technologies can increase agricultural productivity and save energy expenditure. In a workshop, Green People’s Energy trained a dozen agricultural coaches to boost the uptake of renewable energy in off-grid area in Benin.

Eleven agricultural coaches took part in a four-day workshop in the city of Parakou in early June. The workshop was organised by Energy 4 Impact on behalf of Green People’s Energy. The participants were pre-selected by two agricultural projects of GIZ, ProAgri and ProCIVA. They were trained by GIZ’s agricultural projects and have had long standing experience in the communes that GIZ worked in. Each participant brought expertise from different agricultural value chains, such as soy processing, shea butter processing, chicken farming and vegetable cultivation.

In the workshop, participants learned about the practical benefits of solar irrigation and refrigeration, covering both technical and commercial aspects. The coaches also visited a tomato farm irrigated with solar pumps and an agro-processing centre for soy cheese.

“The training combined theoretical and practical aspects that enable us to better serve the entrepreneurs in our network.” – Abiola Yai, Business Coach of ProCIVA, GIZ.

In addition to solar irrigation and refrigeration, the agricultural coaches had animated debates on emerging solar technologies that may have high potential impact in the communities they serve. For example, farmers can convert their shea nut shells into heat energy through a gasification process; women’s cooperatives can save a lot of money if they run their soybean mills on solar.

After the training, the agricultural coaches received a toolkit for the management of the solar technologies, which they can use for their coaching activities. These tools include registry for energy expenses, book-keeping for small businesses, and catalogues of quality solar appliances. Energy 4 Impact will coach the participants over six months, providing them with marketing materials, business plans for equipment purchase and a list of contacts for the best product and credit offers on the market.