Agritechnology Firms in Partnership to Enhance Smallholder Farmers' Productivity

Published Aug. 8, 2018

By Brian Okinda for Daily Nation

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Technology company SunCulture, which specialises in provision of solar water-pumps and irrigation solutions for small holder farmers, has closed an investment round with electric utility firm EDF Group, a low-carbon energy provider.

In the deal, EDF will share its experience selling and installing off-grid solutions designed for residential customers, and its knowledge of Central and West African markets with SunCulture.

EDF will also assist in setting up financing vehicles designed to help farmers afford solar irrigation solutions under SunCulture’s Pay-As-You-Grow platform.

"EDFs commitment to partnering with local companies in creating lasting impact presents an important shift in the way multinationals are doing business in Africa. We’re excited, as this partnership gives us the opportunity to work with EDF to increase rural productivity,” said Samir Ibrahim, SunCulture’s CEO and co-founder.

To expand the impact of its off-grid solutions across the continent, SunCulture is opening up the East African market for EDF, due to the firm’s deep understanding of smallholder farmers’ needs, which will provide invaluable data for EDF to develop its off-grid offering into the agriculture space.

“We are proud to invest in a technology company that brings to African smallholder farmers genuinely innovative solutions transforming their lives and fostering economic development. This partnership enables us to enter a new and very promising business line of off-grid offerings. Our ambition is to become SunCulture’s partner of reference in their expansion beyond Kenya, especially in countries where we already have a strong footprint”, said Marianne Laigneau, the senior executive vice-president in charge of the international division at EDF.

“EDF’s investment will finance SunCulture’s plans to scale up and reach millions of farmers as it brings much more than just money, such as shared philosophies and commitment to work closely and cooperatively together, access to deep knowhow within EDF, and the opening to their extensive contact networks, which will significantly increase the success of SunCulture,” added Andrew Reicher, SunCulture’s board chair.

Majority of African families depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, but just 4 percent use irrigation, with the rest relying on the increasingly unreliable rainfall.

Although switching to irrigated agriculture increases yields by 90 percent when compared to nearby rain-fed farms, high diesel costs make irrigation an unaffordable expense for many small farmers.

With 620 million Africans lacking a connection to the electricity grid, mains-connected electric water pumps are not a viable option and hence adoption of solar water-pumps.

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SunCulture's RainMaker2 powered by ClimateSmart™ is on the market! Not only can farmers irrigate their fields more sustainably and consistently, and with a reliable source of power, they can now benefit from internet-connected weather stations and soil sensors that provide informative alerts by SMS.

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Once again, Futurepump and SunCulture have been selected by the London Stock Exchange Group as Companies to Inspire Africa. This pioneering report identifies Africa’s most inspirational and dynamic private, high-growth companies to a global market. Congratulations to them both!