By Barekye Gerald
According to Uganda Solar Water Pumping Report 2019, the government of Uganda expressed interest in promoting the productive use of energy as one of the strategies for increasing energy access and promoting more holistic development in rural communities.
Given that the agriculture sector employs the highest percentage of the population, the government of Uganda identified solar irrigation as a powerful avenue for social and economic impact in the promotion of energy access.
The agriculture sector employs about 72% of people in Uganda and this means the country has to invest a lot in the sector for maximum production.
Farmers depend on local knowledge and rudimentary tools that result in less production.
The post-harvest losses are increasing day by day, especially in wet seasons.
After farmers have harvested their produce, they use their traditional methods of drying on the floor and this exposes the products to rodents and other pests that reduce their product quality.
Using solar energy is the best option and through the solar irrigation systems, farmers will produce throughout the year. These post-harvest losses need immediate intervention to save farmers from making huge losses.
Using clean energy that is sustainable is the cheapest option that the ministry should implement to enable all farmers to adapt to the use of solar power for different farm operations.
It should be noted that most farmers add no value to the farm output and this affects the final price on the market. Using the alternative cheap source of power (solar) will enable farmers to carry out value addition on their products to fetch better prices.
For example, in Ntungamo district, farmers are losing their coffee plantations due to prolonged drought that is making coffee trees dry. This has left many coffee farmers with no option other than cutting them down for firewood. This is due to the lack of cheap irrigation equipment and power in the areas.
Embracing the use of solar energy that is powered by the sun will help farmers to run water pumps for irrigation and other activities on the farm like drying and in greenhouses.
The ministry of agriculture should know that solar energy is the best and affordability solution for crop drying, greenhouse gas heating, water pump system for crop production, and small-scale irrigation.
It’s also an economical and sustainable source of power and reduces the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The ministry of agriculture should provide solar at affordable prices to farmers to reduce postharvest losses to increase production for the country to remain food secure and embracing the use of Solar energy will be the best option to tap in.
Barekye Gerald, Research Associate at AFIEGO
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