Elbow to Elbow: Convening Donors and Practitioners to Optimize Blended Finance for African Agriculture
Official development assistance isn't enough to bridge the SDG financing gap, or to unlock the growth and impact potential of African agricultural enterprises. Blended finance is often cited as a solution, but according to Brian Milder of Aceli Africa, it's falling short both in terms of impact and private capital mobilized. He explains the reasons for these limitations, and examines the perspectives of both donors and lenders to show how catalytic capital can be leveraged more effectively.
Climate-Positive Agriculture: How Investors Can Support Smallholder Farmers – While Also Regenerating the Environment
Global agricultural demand is expected to increase by about 50% from 2013 to 2050, as the world's population is projected to reach nearly 10 billion. Smallholder farmers in Africa and Latin America are well-positioned to meet this growing need – but expanding their current unsustainable farming practices could cause massive climate and environmental consequences. Bianca Samson, Flavia Howard and Kusi Hornberger at Dalberg share how investing in regenerative, climate-smart agriculture can boost food security and benefit smallholders, investors and the environment.
Reimagining Agriculture in Kenya: Five Steps for Building Resilience and Food Security After a Catastrophic Year
Multiple crises in 2020 – from the COVID-19 pandemic to a desert locust upsurge and massive flash floods – served as a wake-up call about the fragility of Kenya's agricultural sector. And as Michael Omega, Daniel Kitwa and Racheal Wangari of Intellecap Africa explain, climate change makes future crises more likely, heightening the need for increased productivity and greater food security in the country. They explore five ways to reimagine Kenya’s agricultural value chain and food system, to build resilience and improve livelihoods for farmers and vulnerable communities.
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.
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.