Scaling Biodigesters: How Appropriate Financing Can Help This Undervalued Technology Deliver Social and Environmental Impact
Biodigesters break down organic material to produce biogas for cooking and heating, along with fertilizer. But though these applications are extremely useful for farming households, uptake remains limited: In Africa alone, the technology could be adopted by almost 33 million households, but market penetration is less than 1% of that. Tanya Kothari of the Catalysing Agriculture by Scaling Energy Ecosystems program shares a recent study from the Shell Foundation exploring the impact biodigesters can make, while identifying the kinds of financing that could support growth in the market.
Below the Tip of the Iceberg: Why Systems Change is the Key to Scaling Innovations and Solving Development Challenges
In recent years there has been an increased focus on systems change in the development sector, in response to growing awareness of how underlying systemic causes are perpetuating many global challenges. María Boa-Alvarado at CIMMYT, Lennart Woltering at One CGIAR and Marcos Sanjuán at CRS-El Salvador discuss the benefits of this approach, as applied to the issue of land degradation in Central America. They explore how their organizations are using a systems thinking tool, the iceberg model, to better understand the root causes of this problem – and to provide lasting solutions.
Providing loans to agricultural enterprises in East Africa can be a complicated task, with challenges ranging from higher origination costs to arduous journeys to conduct due diligence. As Brian Milder of Aceli Africa explains, that makes many lenders reluctant to serve these businesses — and this lack of capital is stunting the growth of local agri-SMEs. In this third article in a four-part series, he explores the barriers to financing in the industry – particularly the under-recognized role of high transaction costs in limiting capital flows – and shares how Aceli is addressing them.
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.