Scaling the Distribution of Tailored Agro-Solar Irrigation Kits to Smallholder Farmers

Innovator (Country of Incorporation): 
Kenya
Collaborators: 
Clean Energy Source: 
Agricultural Focus: 
Product Segment: 
Year of Award: 
Financing Status: 
Organization: 

SunCulture, based in Nairobi, Kenya, sells the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit (ASIK), an entirely solar-powered drip irrigation system that makes it easier and cheaper for farmers to grow a wide variety of crops. The kit combines solar water pumping technology with high-efficiency drip irrigation and includes everything a farmer needs to grow more while spending less, in a sustainable and energy-efficient way. REEEP, as a project partner, will provide information and knowledge management support.

Problem/Opportunity: 

The majority of farmland in Africa is unsuited to rain-fed agriculture, yet only 6 percent is under irrigation and crop yields are low. The African market lacks aggregation of the presently disconnected and inefficient agriculture value chain. Farmers rely on expensive diesel pumps which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, or hand carried water, typically collected by women and girls.

Clean Energy Solution: 

The SunCulture AgroSolar Irrigation Kit combines cost-effective solar pumping technology with a high-efficiency drip irrigation system to make it cheaper and easier for farmers to grow. The kit pulls water from any water source (lake, river, stream, well, borehole, water harvester, etc.) using solar power. The solar panels provide the pump’s electricity directly without the need for expensive batteries or inverters. Water is pumped into a raised water storage tank during the day. When irrigation takes place during the evening, a valve on the water tank is opened and water flows down through a filtration system and onto crop root zones via drip irrigation tape.

Impact: 

As a result of switching to solar irrigation, smallholder farmers will realize significant benefits. These benefits include increased production of higher value produce, cost savings, and more efficient use of time. Time saved on farming and water gathering can be directed to other more productive activities. In addition, SunCulture’s system has environmental benefits - in the next year, current SunCulture farmers will save 1.4 billion liters of water and generate over 84,000 kilowatt hours of power annually - all this while growing over 9.4 million kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Progress Update: 

Since the beginning of the Powering Agriculture award, SunCulture has sold 40 AgroSolar Irrigation Kits (ASIKs) in Kenya which allowed 187 farmers to provide better nutrition, higher quality education and healthcare for themselves and their families. They have also trained 25 technicians that provide agronomy support from planning through harvest, as well as installation and after-sales support to the beneficiary farmers. SunCulture has also developed a distribution partnership in Tanzania and are targeting expansion into two additional countries in 2017.

Project News: 
Mar. 8, 2017

Congratulations to Powering Agriculture innovators Futurepump and SunCulture! They're both finalists for the 2017 Ashden International Award. Established in 2001, the Ashden Awards are a globally recognized measure for excellence in the field of green energy

Feb. 19, 2017

SunCulture and Futurepump have been longlisted for the Ashden Awards, the annual competition that encourages sustainable energy development and acknowledges leaders in innovation. It's one of the most prestigious awards in the sustainability community! Keep an eye on these two innovators for sure.

Jan. 18, 2017

SunCulture wins AgFunder Innovation Award! The groundbreaking work of this American entrepreneur-founded company has earned them the honor of being named one of the 5 Most Innovative International Pre-Series A Startups. Congratulations to everyone at SunCulture!