Experts say Africa needs off-grid energy to power food security dream

Farmers attend a solar irrigation pump demo at Wambugu Agricultural Training Institute in Nyeri. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Expanding access to affordable and reliable off-grid energy by smallholder farmers is key to meeting the rising food demand in Africa, a new report has said.

The report released by the Malabo Montpellier Panel on Tuesday says that African governments should step up investments in energy innovations such as solar systems in rural areas to help reduce the drudgery of farm work, and improve farm productivity, processing and distribution of food.

Under the Malabo Declaration, the African Union heads of state committed to end hunger on the continent by 2025.

The panel of 17 leading experts y seeks to guide policy decisions by African government on food security and improved nutrition.

“As demand for food continues to grow globally, universal access to energy will become an urgent necessity, both for the production, processing and consumption of more nutritious food,” said Ousmane Badiane, co-chair of the Malabo Montpellier Panel, which met in Gambia for the Malabo Montpellier Forum.

“Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable sources of energy to prepare land, plant, harvest, process, distribute and cook food, will ensure that Africa’s agricultural sector can respond to this demand, all within the context of climate change and increasingly scarce natural resources.”

Kenyan Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, the director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, is part of the panel, whose report also recommends involvement of women in the formulation of national energy and agricultural policies to ensure that new technologies benefit them, their households and their communities.

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