Ethiopia has launched nine large scale irrigation systems powered by solar minigrids, thanks to the Distributed Renewable Energy – Agriculture Modalities, or DREAM initiative.
Agriculture is a major part of Ethiopia’s economy, yet only 5% of the country’s land is irrigated. As a result, crop yields on small farms are below regional averages.
Those behind the DREAM initiative said that the pilot project will help the country meet its goal to irrigate nearly 5 million acres by 2030. According to Hizkyas Dufera, a senior adviser to the Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands, the solar minigrids will help the nation “achieve national food security and food sovereignty through the expansion of commercially viable, environmentally friendly, climate resilient, and technologically advanced irrigation schemes.”
The solar minigrids are designed to replace the diesel generators farmers currently use to pump water with reliable, clean and affordable electricity.
Yifru Tafese, deputy director general at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Institute, said the DREAM initiative will “contribute to increasing sustainable agricultural production and growing smallholder farmer incomes.” He also believes the initiative will pave the way for broader rural transformation.
DREAM initiative has big plans
Tafese added that the launch of the DREAM project “is the beginning of a great journey bridging off-grid renewable energy and irrigated agriculture.”
According to Habtamu Itefa, minister with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy, the DREAM initiative will build 200 minigrids over the life of the program. He said they will “provide new or improved access to electricity to over 290,000 people, create or improve more than 60,000 jobs, while displacing up to 200,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.”
DREAM initiative partners include various Ethiopian government entities, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, The World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank – Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.
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