Growing Power: Exploring energy needs in smallholder agriculture
There is a growing interest in how to deliver energy services to people on a low income, not just for household use but to earn a living: the so-called ‘productive uses’ of energy. One sector that deserves particular attention is smallholder agriculture. Expanding access to modern energy services and equipment for farmers could help address food security, gender empowerment and rural poverty. But the issues are complex, barriers plentiful and examples sparse of successful delivery at scale. Rural electrification schemes have focused narrowly on supply, rather than use, of energy; joined-up approaches across sectors are lacking; and the private sector is put off by the high risks and low returns. This paper considers the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of energy access for smallholders and related rural enterprises, and invites discussion among experts, practitioners and policy-makers on the key priorities, lessons learned and ways forward.