FAO Highlights the Value of Solar Energy in Transforming Agrifood System in West Africa


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has recently organized a webinar on the theme ‘Solar Energy and Agricultural Development in West Africa’ in its sub-regional office in Ghana to make its achievements visible. The agency hosted more than 30 shareholders and partners and highlighted the importance of solar energy for the transformation of agrifood systems in West Africa and the Sahel countries.


The webinar was organized in partnership with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE). The specialized ECOWAS agency provided the opportunity to review the opportunities and benefits of incorporating renewable energy into the agro-sylvo-pastoral sector as well as into fishery activities.


Francis Semporé, Executive Director of ECREEE, mentioned that agriculture is the main economic activity in the ECOWAS region, contributing to about 35% of the GDP and employing around 65% of the population in the West African region. Semporé assured the collaboration of the institution with the FAO to popularize the use of renewable energy solutions in the sub-regional agriculture sector.

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Solar energy plays an important role in the production stage to the storage stage of the agri-food value chain. It helps in increasing productivity, reducing post-harvest losses, strengthening the climate resilience of farmers, along with improving the living conditions of the population.


FAO has provided vital support in improving access to and efficient use of water for sustainable agricultural intensification, and income generation through the use and dissemination of solar energy infrastructure, in countries such as Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.

According to the FAO, more than 1350 women in rural Mali have benefited from solar irrigation infrastructure for their vegetable gardens. Around 4,000 households including 1880 women are the beneficiary of a solar irrigation system on 120 ha of land and 5 vegetable gardens with a total area of 10 ha.

In Niger, around 14326 households have benefited from a solar irrigation infrastructure that facilitates the local water supply, irrigation, and livestock watering. Also in Gambia, a solar irrigation system combining 20,000 liters of overhead tanks and a water distribution system with 20-24 tanks of 4,000 liters in each vegetable garden has benefited easy access to water and reduced the burden of human labor. 

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Robert Guéi, the FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, said, energy and food systems are deeply connected as nearly 30% of the world’s energy is consumed in agri-food systems. Both sectors need transformation through technological innovations to meet the increasing demand for food as well as energy, in an equitable, inclusive, and environmentally-friendly manner.

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