By Simon Okitela
Experts in the innovation space want players in the agriculture sector to adopt and accelerate the use of solar technologies across the value chain so as to reduce the sector’s dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the impact of climate change.
This was during the Agri-solar Stakeholder engagement workshop organized by the Innovation Village, in partnership with Youth Challenge International and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The meeting convened farmers, innovators, finance organizations and other ecosystem actors to identify innovative models and interventions capable of driving wide scale adoption and use of solar technologies in Agriculture.
Speaking at the event, Arthur Mukembo, Future Lab Studios Lead at Innovation Village said, “Uganda has a significant potential for solar energy production due to its high levels of solar radiation which the innovators can leverage on to create innovative solar solution models to enhance production across the agriculture value chain.”
Climate change, which at its helm is carbon emission, is the world’s biggest environmental crisis today, as evidenced by raging wide fires, unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged drought spells and heatwaves.
There is a need to increase interaction across all sector players, create platforms for knowledge sharing and networking, sector transparency, collaboration, and a better understanding that natural calamities need to be addressed through innovation and best practices.
“As the Continental Free Trade Agreement opens new markets and demand for agricultural produce increases, it’s crucial that we incentivize innovators to develop new equitable business models that make the consumption of solar technologies more affordable, accessible, and viable for smallholder farmers.” Mukembo added.
However, Morris Molole, a farmer, and representative of the Farmers Association of Uganda says the challenge is the high initial costs of solar panels and batteries, limited knowledge on how to use and maintain solar equipment, limited financing, technical support, and unreliable supply chain.
The meeting also among other things sought to map out the challenges impeding the adoption of solar energy and develop practical solutions to unlock the massive untapped technology opportunity that can be harnessed to improve sustainability and improving agricultural yields and livelihoods.