Minigrids and Cold Storage Are a Match Made in Sustainable Development Heaven – So What’s Keeping Them Apart?
The minigrid sector faces a dilemma: Most rural customers need electricity in the evenings, yet most minigrids generate their power during the day. This requires them to store unused power in expensive batteries, complement their solar power with diesel generators, or reduce production. As Seth Silverman and Tom Chaplin at Factor[e] Ventures explain, cold storage providers could offer minigrids reliable demand for their surplus power – yet these partnerships aren't happening. They explore the obstacles, and some potential solutions.
A Tentative Recovery: Survey Data Shows Signs of Progress – and Warnings of Future Distress – Among Kenyan Farmers During COVID-19
It’s estimated that over 50 million people are in need of immediate food assistance in the Horn, East and Central Africa. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021, Kenyan farmers’ ability to weather this crisis is at the heart of the region’s recovery, say Venu Aggarwal and Kelsey Jarrett at 60 Decibels. They share data 60 Decibels has collected from thousands of Kenyan farmers, revealing both slight improvements since the early days of the crisis, and the danger of more severe, longer-term financial distress.
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: COVID-19’s Impact on Indian Agriculture: How Data Should Drive Future Policies
The Indian agricultural economy is made up of complex market linkages connecting approximately 263 million agricultural workers to over 1 billion consumers. When COVID-19 locked down the economy, many feared the sector would be crippled, yet these networks seemed remarkably robust – at least at first. However, analysts at IDinsight share data suggesting that agricultural markets may not be as healthy as market figures suggest, and explore policy prescriptions that could strengthen the sector in the long term.
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: Taking Cold Chains Off-Grid: How Solar Powered Cold Rooms Could Dramatically Reduce Food Waste in Sub-Saharan Africa
In sub-Saharan Africa, up to 50% of produce perishes before reaching end customers, largely due to a lack of viable cold chain solutions. Maria Knodt at Energy 4 Impact and Ruth Kimani at CLASP explore how solar-powered cold rooms can address this issue, and highlight some significant technical and business model challenges that could undermine their impact.
2020 MOST INFLUENTIAL ARTICLE CANDIDATE: Milling on Mini-Grids: How Africa’s Largest Crop Could Go Diesel-Free
Milling is a key use of energy for people living off-grid in rural Africa, allowing them to turn grains like maize – the region's most commonly produced cereal – into flour to make staple foods. Using solar mini-grid electricity to power these mills would save money, reduce air pollution and boost electricity sales for mini-grid companies. But as analysts at CrossBoundary point out, diesel mills still dominate the market. They explore the challenge of competing with diesel, and how innovations in solar mills are changing the landscape.
Post-Harvest Food Loss Is a Key Driver of Malnutrition: These Innovations Are Tackling the Problem in Indonesia’s Fish Value Chain
Food loss is a major challenge in Indonesia, and loss of fresh fish is a particular problem. An estimated 20 – 29% of fish is lost annually in the domestic supply chain, contributing to high rates of malnutrition and harming livelihoods in the country. As Rahmi Kasri at I-PLAN, GAIN Indonesia explains, inadequate cold chain infrastructure and poor handling practices lie at the heart of this issue. She discusses some promising cold chain, processing and product innovations that are addressing the challenge.
A Sector in Transition: How Data and Evidence Can Set India’s Agricultural Markets on the Path Toward a Successful Future
Farmer protests in New Delhi have dominated headlines in India in recent weeks. They come in response to a series of farm bills that were passed into law in September, with the goal of shifting the agriculture sector away from traditional state-regulated markets and toward a more open system. Rupika Singh, Praachi Khera and Tony Senanayake at IDinsight discuss the pros and cons of these new laws, the underlying challenges facing India’s agricultural systems, and the ways that data and evidence can help leaders set these markets up for success.
Agriculture should be a key market for rural energy providers in Africa. Growing agribusinesses and smallholder farmers need modern energy to thrive, and rural energy enterprises need reliable consumers to anchor demand for their services. Yet as Seth Silverman and Tom Chaplin at Factor[e] Ventures explain, a gap remains between the two industries, and ag-energy projects struggle to draw commercial investment. They explore some promising ways to fill that gap, sharing lessons from a new report.