Foundation promotes solar technologies for farmers
Kajiado County is located south of Nairobi and borders Tanzania to the south. The semi-arid region is home to over 1.1 million people, primarily members of the Maasai tribe. The majority raise livestock and poultry, but also grow vegetables. It is a low-rainfall region, and water resources are correspondingly scarce. In addition, only a few people have access to energy and electricity. To irrigate their fields, many farmers rely on diesel-powered pumps.
With the help of photovoltaic systems and solar-powered pumps, the farmers of Kajiado County could irrigate their fields more cost-effectively and run incubators for poultry. Ordinary citizens could also harness these energy resources to charge cell phones, and invest in other income-generating activities. However, knowledge about renewable energy and its potential is limited in the region.
That’s why LRC Foundation’s Maa Green Energy project aims to raise awareness of solar technologies with demonstration plants in ten communities in Isinya sub-county, Kenya. The foundation also wants to initiate a market for solar products, including training and maintenance of the systems. Up to 920 households are expected to benefit from the measures.
The LRC Foundation, based in Nairobi, was established in 2008 and registered as a social enterprise in 2011. The foundation trains farmers, pastoralists and agribusinesses, and aims to help people along agricultural supply chains to increase their value through knowledge transfer. The LRC Foundation has been involved in the region since 2010, specifically in the ten communities of Isinya sub-county.
LRC relies on an incentive system in disseminating solar technologies,. The demonstration plants first show the potentials and possibilities. If the farmers are convinced, a certain number of them are given the opportunity to purchase either solar-powered water pumps, charging stations for cell phones, or poultry incubators for a price reduced by 20 percent. This price reduction is offset by the project, the remaining 80 percent is financed by the interested party. In advance, the project team will identify suitable financing models and manufacturers willing to operate in the region.
Technicians trained by the project will play an important role in the dissemination of the technologies and their maintenance. In addition to their maintenance mission, they will inform the population about renewable technologies. The technicians will come from the communities themselves, creating an avenue for local employment. Maintenance of these systems they will be financed by the communities in order to promote sustainability.
The project assumes that the demonstration plants will help farmers, cooperatives, and women’s groups to purchase more demonstration plants, thus creating a market for the products.