Authorities to Power Ethiopia’s Agriculture with Renewable Energy

ADDIS ABABA – The Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands has launched a new project to sustainably energize Ethiopia’s agriculture system for improved productivity and income.

The Ministry launched the Powering Agriculture in Ethiopia project, which utilizes Decentralized Renewable Energy solutions (DREs), in partnership with Power for All.

Ethiopiaʼs economy is dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 40 percent of the GDP, 80% of exports, and an estimated 75% of the country’s workforce.

The total area of croplands estimated to potentially be irrigated is 21.8 million hectares (Mha), of which only 1.11 Mha (5%) was mapped as the irrigated area.

With more than half the population still living without access to reliable electricity, authorities say the potential to use DRE systems to power agricultural systems is immense.

It is against this background that the government has initiated a myriad of irrigation projects that are powered by both grid and off-grid systems across the country.

The irrigation schemes aim to increase productivity, improve livelihoods and build the resilience capacity of smallholder farmers.

Seeks Non-state actors’ participation

The Ministry is currently embarking to deploy various types of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) equipment towards powering irrigation infrastructures and the agriculture value chain using renewable technology.

The solar-powered irrigation, for instance, enables the production of diversified, high-value crops like fruits and vegetables all year round, free from seasonal limitations, according to the Ministry.

Irrigation and Lowlands Minister Aisha Mohammed stressed the importance of collaboration between the Government and non-state partners to drive the adoption of renewable energy solutions.

“As part of its National Irrigation Strategy, the ministry will work with development partners and the private sector actors to leverage the use of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE),” said the Minister.

The move aims “to achieve national food security and food sovereignty through the expansion of commercially viable, environmentally friendly, climate resilient, and technologically advanced irrigation schemes and the implementation of Integrated Sustainable Development in lowland areas.” Aisha said.

Collaboration with Power for All

The Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with Power for All, on Tuesday to seal their partnership of cooperation and collaboration.

Power for All, a global network of 250 organizations working to end energy poverty, says it will provide regular updates on the progress of the Powering Agriculture in Ethiopia project.

“The Powering Agriculture project is a welcome intervention that complements the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts in accelerating the deployment of Distributed Renewable Energy systems to increase smallholder farmers’ productivity,” Aisha said and extended her gratitude towards the IKEA Foundation for supporting this initiative.

CEO of Power for All, Kristina Skierka appreciated the Government of Ethiopia’s cooperation and highlighted the importance of collaboration across the energy, water, and agriculture nexus to boost the adoption and scaling of the DRE market and increase Productive use of Energy equipment in the agri-food systems.

“The Powering Agriculture in Ethiopia project will work with the Government to address gaps and ensure that the foundation for DRE and PUE market transformation is laid by coordinating key market actors,” Skierka said.

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