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Powering Agriculture Ethiopia: New renewable energy enabled irrigation project to spur agricultural productivity by promoting productive use of renewable energy

Addis Ababa, Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - Today, the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands launched the Powering Agriculture in Ethiopia project in partnership with Power for All, to sustainably energize Ethiopia’s agriculture system utilizing Decentralized Renewable Energy solutions (DREs) for improved productivity and incomes.

Ethiopiaʼs economy is dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 40 percent of the GDP, 80 percent of exports, and an estimated 75 percent 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, the potential to use DRE systems to power the Agricultural systems is immense. 

It is against this background that the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands (MILLs) has initiated a myriad of irrigation projects that are powered by both grid and off-grid systems across the country to increase productivity, improve livelihoods and build the resilience capacity of smallholder farmers. The Ministry is currently embarking to deploy various types of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) equipment’s towards powering irrigation infrastructures and the agriculture value chain using renewable technology. For instance, solar-powered irrigation enables production of diversified, high-value crops like fruits and vegetables all year round, free from seasonal limitations.     

While addressing the event participants, the Minister of Irrigation and Lowlands, H.E. Engineer Aisha Mohammed stressed the importance of collaboration between the Government of Ethiopia and non-state partners to drive adoption of renewable energy powered solutions such as solar powered irrigation.

“As part of its National Irrigation Strategy (NIS), the ministry will work with development partners and the private sector actors to leverage the use of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) 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 (ISD) in lowland areas.” Engineer Aisha Mohammed said.

“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” she added and extended her gratitude towards the IKEA Foundation for supporting this initiative.

Kristina Skierka, the Chief Executive Officer of Power for All appreciated the Government of Ethiopia’s cooperation and highlighted the importance of collaboration across the energy, water and agriculture nexus to boost adoption and scaling of the DRE market and substantially increase Productive use of Energy (PUE) 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, creating awareness of PUE and obtaining buy in of influencers and policymakers to strengthen the policy regime needed for growth,” Skierka said.

H.E. Birhanu Megersa (PhD), State Minister of Irrigation welcomed this initiative and underlined that “It is only through our collaborative efforts that smallholder farmers are able to access modern renewable technologies to help them increase their productivity, thereby increasing their resilience to climate change and contributing to the national economy”. The state minister further added that, “The Ministry welcomes this partnership with Power for All and is looking forward to increasing stakeholder collaboration with its partners, private and the development actors to meet its objective”.

Hizkyas Dufera, Senior Advisor to the Minister added that “The Ministry has a vision to see increased irrigation schemes deployed throughout the country and smallholder farmers make an integral part of our vision. Power for All comes as a strategic partner to support us in increasing demand towards the use of PUE equipment and expanding irrigation infrastructure”

Tesfaye Hailu, Country Director for Power for All in Ethiopia made a concluding remark that “Power for All has brought in the required expertise to work with the Ministry and provide technical assistance, drive demand towards smallholder farmers access DRE products and also support the Ministry in its advocacy efforts to increase awareness in building the resilience capacity of smallholder farmers through increased productivity”.

During the event, the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands signed a memorandum of understanding with Power for All to seal their partnership of cooperation and collaboration.

Power for All will provide regular updates on the progress of the Powering Agriculture in Ethiopia project. If you are interested in learning more, please email info(at)powerforall.org

For more information, please visit powerforall.org

About the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands

The Ministry of Irrigation & Lowlands (MILLs) is among the newly formed executive organs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) under proclamation No.1263/2021, the proclamation that provided for the definition of the powers and duties of the executive organs of the FDRE. The ministry is mandated to develop and/or expand irrigation infrastructure and integrated lowland development throughout the country by bridging the gap that exists between energy infrastructure, and agricultural productivity through the development of environmental friendly, climate resilient and technologically advanced irrigation schemes. In Ethiopia, only 5 percent of potentially irrigable land is irrigated and crop yields from rainfed smallholder farms are below global averages, at only 30% of expected yield.  In addition to increased crop production yield, access to irrigation enables farmers to diversify crop production, thereby enhancing their climate resilience.  Currently, in areas where irrigation is practiced, energy is generated from emission-generating and foreign currency intensive diesel generators, since large tracts of the rural population do not have access to the electrical grid.  The development of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) based irrigation schemes is expected to deliver climate resilient, sustainable, and economically viable food production in the country. 

In the lowland areas of the country, the MILLs plans to implement Integrated Sustainable Development (ISD) leveraging innovative irrigation schemes to provide feedstock for the livestock while substantially increasing medium to large-scale farm production in the country. In addition to achieving high yield and sustainable largescale farming, DRE enabled Integrated Sustainable Development has the potential to transform the economic potential of lowland areas.

About Power for All

Since 2015, Power for All has focused on growing the market for distributed renewable energy (DRE) to end energy poverty. In every developing country we work in, we utilize awareness, advocacy, and market activation to end the unequal distribution of energy resources and biases in the global power system. In some regions, we also run targeted campaigns focused on the benefits of DRE-based energy access, work with other sectors to create demand for DRE, and drive a more inclusive global energy system.

About The IKEA Foundation

The Mission of the IKEA Foundation is to improve the lives of vulnerable children by enabling their families to create sustainable livelihoods, and fight and cope with climate change.

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