Best innovations in agriculture awarded
Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development is a joint enterprise of USAID, the governments of Germany and Sweden, OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) and Duke Energy Corporation. The aim of the competition is to show how innovations and new “green energy generation methods” may impact food production, in particular in the less affluent parts of the world.
As many as 871 applications had been submitted to this year’s edition of the competition, and only 13 projects became the winners. The authors are to receive grants of 12.9 mln USD in total for implementing and marketing their ideas.
Solar energy improves fertilization
One of the laureates came up with the use of solar panels with a view to improve crop condition in Jordan, one of the most dry regions in the world. The plan is to install solar panels meant to control fertilization and irrigation using drip system that enables to cut water and fertilizer consumption as well as reduce the seepage of fertilizers to groundwater.
UV light to improve coffee quality
Coffee harvested in Ethiopia constitutes one of the main export goods in the country. Processing the beans has been a problem, though. The traditional approach is to leave them to dry in the sun, which is time-consuming, takes away some of the natural flavor, and makes the beans vulnerable to diseases, such as fungal infections. Switching to ultraviolet light cuts the drying process to a few hours’ time, preventing quality loss and limiting bean waste.
Solar panels to the rescue in Kenya
The competition jury were also impressed with the idea to use solar panels on a large scale in Kenyan agriculture. They may help to do away with Diesel power generators, which are costly and harmful for the environment. According to experts, flower growers may benefit the most thanks to the introduction of solar panels.
Solar energy became the leader
Most of the winning 13 projects deal with the application of solar power, which is particularly efficient in the countries located near the equator, where the economies are still struggling. The development of solar energy generation may help curb the negative impact of agriculture on the natural environment.