In conversation with Power for All, Dr. Roberto Ridolfi, special advisor on strategy and finance for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), called for countries to innovate their regulatory approach and reduce red tape and bureaucracy to end food waste.
"We realized that access to energy especially decentralized, in remote rural areas where the grid doesn't work is fundamental," Ridolfi said, adding that food waste mainly affects 780 smallholder farmers. "FAO analysis shows that we could have an increase of 80% on productivity of rural areas by providing [electricity] access."
"There is no storage, there is no processing facility, there is no energy to enable and empower the economic transformation of the life of many, many poor people," he said.
Ridolfi pointed to mini-grids as a significant opportunity for scaling agriculture, pointing to pilots by ENGIE and Enel in Uganda and Zambia, but said better regulatory frameworks were needed, as well as access to blended finance to reduce risk and entice banks to enter the market more aggressively.
"There is no way that a tariff of electricity in a city coming from a hydropower plant or a big solar or wind installation will be cheaper than the tariff of decentralized solutions, so we need finance to come into the picture for agriculture to become sustainable, avoiding losses and assuring food security to all," he said.
Nor do diesel generators make economic sense, selling for $1.5 per kilowatt hour in some sub-Saharan African countries, he noted.
Lastly, he stressed the need for more entrepreneurs. "We would need thousands and thousands more small, brave entrepree going into rural Africa and promoting these kinds of business," Ridolfi said.
To hear all of Dr. Ridolfi's insights on this topic, listen to the full interview.