Powering Agriculture with Accessible Power for All

In this interview, Brian Kawuma, Director of the Powering Agriculture programme at Power for All, discusses the role of decentralised renewable energy in enhancing agricultural productivity

The Voices in AgTech blog series highlights the people and organisations whose work has helped increase awareness of solar-powered agricultural technologies. In this interview, Brian Kawuma, Director of the Powering Agriculture programme at Power for All, discusses the role of decentralised renewable energy in enhancing agricultural productivity.

Please tell us about your background and role at Power for All.

I am the Director of the Powering Agriculture Campaign at Power for All. I lead strategic planning and communication on the campaign as well as key stakeholder engagement and collaboration. My background is in Strategic Communication. I have worked in the agriculture sector for over 10 years leading communication for development initiatives. I have also worked in the private sector as a marketing communications lead.

The Powering Agriculture campaign is Power for All’s contribution to a growing movement to make decentralised renewables a central part of scaling agriculture and food productivity in emerging economies. Can you tell us a bit more about your motivations for launching the campaign and its reach to date?

The campaign was born of the realisation that though agriculture sustains over 70% of the population in parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural productivity is generally low due to minimal or inefficient mechanisation which limits its scale.

Power for All believes that integrating Decentralised Renewable Energy technologies in agricultural value chains can sustainably increase productivity of the sector and create more jobs. To date the campaign has engaged over 80 partners globally and reached many more through global events like COP26 and the UN Food systems summit. In Uganda for instance, the Powering Agriculture campaign has convened over 50 organisations and companies in the agrifood and energy sectors to develop an action plan for scaling Productive Use of Renewable Energy in the agricultural sector.

What is in store for the Powering Agriculture campaign this year?

The Powering Agriculture Campaign plans to extend to India and Ethiopia to support partners in the agriculture and energy ecosystems there, to advance productive use of renewable energy for agriculture.

What do you see as some of the biggest hurdles or challenges to expanding the reach of clean, productive use agricultural technologies? On the flip side, what makes you optimistic about trends in this space?

Access to affordable finance, limited knowledge and awareness about the opportunities that decentralised renewable energy presents for the sector, as well as unfavourable policies in some parts of the world, limit productive use of energy in agricultural processes.

Fortunately, there is growing optimism in the Productive Use Equipment (PUE) industry, boosted by renewed calls for greening agrifood systems, to respond to the threat of climate change. Green Financing mechanisms are opening up to reduce the cost of solar technologies as well as subsidies for smart agriculture.

In your opinion, what can be done to strengthen the bridge between the two historically siloed sectors of clean energy and agriculture?

Creating more awareness about the complementarity of the sectors and generating more evidence about the benefits to people and planet, of integrating energy in the agriculture sector, [could help strengthen that bridge between clean energy and agriculture].

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

National governments ought to rethink how agriculture is powered in their countries. Renewable energy solutions are the only sustainable power sources for mechanising agricultural production. Institutional and financial support towards streamlining DREs in agriculture will transform how food is produced, especially in developing economies in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.


About The Author

Brian Kawuma has 14 years’ experience in Strategic Communications working with government, private sector, civil society and development partners. He coordinates the Powering Agriculture Campaign where he closely engages stakeholders in the Agriculture and Energy nexus to fast track productive use of decentralised renewable energy in the Agrifood systems.