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Capitalising on Africa’s largest lake for solar-powered farming in Tanzania

SMART HARVEST
By Fredrick Obura | March 13th 2017

In efforts to assist farmers in Tanzania to improve profitability, Energy 4 Impact is offering business advisory services to Simusolar, a firm providing and financing solar powered irrigation technologies in Tanzania.

Energy 4 Impact and Simusolar recently conducted an assessment of farmers in the Lake Zone that encompasses Mara and Mwanza regions. Over 160 farmers and 40 other key players in the value chain including traders, wholesalers and retailers of agricultural crops were assessed in both Musoma and Mwanza districts with an aim of understanding the horticultural value chain in the two areas.

“We teamed up with Simusolar to test the hypothesis that smallholder farmers, especially those growing high-value horticultural crops, are open to adopting affordable irrigation technologies once financing schemes, easy access to inputs and agronomic advice are facilitated. This hypothesis testing was a crucial step before making recommendations to farmers on specific irrigation systems to adopt,” says Energy 4 Impact's Business Analyst Faith Njore.

She says that most farmers in Musoma and Mwanza are willing to take up solar-powered irrigation technologies but find the cost of the solar pump to be too high to settle in one payment.

“The findings from the assessments will enable us to make the most appropriate pricing and service delivery decisions as we seek to explore the huge potential in this area. Our vision is to enable smallholder farmers to be able to afford the solar pumps through affordable financial plans,” says Simusolar CEO Marianne Walpert.

Energy 4 Impact also supported Simusolar’s recent crowdfunding campaign through the Crowd Power Progamme to help them finance working capital for the sale of solar fishing lights used by fishing communities around Lake Victoria.

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