Inspiring Examples of Climate Action in the Agri-Food Sector Showcased in Bonn
Off-grid and decentralized energy solutions and efficient water practices in the agri-food chain are crucial to build resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This was the key conclusion of an expert meeting on the issue at the June UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn. The various stages of the global agri-food chain - from the production phase through to food distribution, processing, and cooking -are still largely dependent upon depleting and expensive fossil fuels for energy production, which generate 22% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.
Experts at the UN meeting in Bonn examined the interlinkages between water security, energy security and food security when addressing matters related to the increasing demand for food from a growing global population, which in addition to climate change, is placing significant pressure on agricultural production and natural resources.
At the Bonn meeting experts and pioneers presented innovative case studies. The company aOysta presented hydro-powered pumps which are propelled by their water wheel design, harnessing the energy from flowing streams to pump water for irrigation. The pumps, which work entirely without fuel, do not produce greenhouse gas emissions and are therefore a clean alternative to diesel-operated ones. The technology is also economical for producers since it removes the expensive operational costs associated with fossil fuels for energy generation. The technology was piloted in Nepal and has since been deployed in 13 countries.
The University of Hohenheim demonstrated the potential for Do-It-Yourself solar cooling units in the cooling and transport stages of the agri-food chain. The technology relies on solar energy for refrigeration and has been developed for and applied to milk cooling. Solar cooling units are technically feasible for small- and medium-scale cooling systems in food-value chains. The economic feasibility for upscaling and replicating the technology is currently being investigated by private sector partners in conjunction with ongoing public sector initiatives.
GeoCode International highlighted examples from solar cold storage in Nigeria, where Fee-for-Service or PAYG payment schemes have proven to be attractive financing solutions for smallholder farmers that don’t have the capacity to finance upfront capital costs for new technologies. Such business models that provide a service to clients for a service fee allow new energy technologies to be adopted by smallholder farmers, whilst providing a return on investment for the company in the longer term.
The implementation of innovative energy and water solutions can bring wide-ranging benefits. Such solutions can reduce food waste, tackle energy poverty issues in rural communities, minimize health risks associated with domestic air pollution from conventional energy sources in developing nations, and lead to economic benefits from energy cost savings within communities.
By replicating and upscaling such innovative solutions, countries can maximize the potential of their national climate action plans (Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) and help achieve the objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.