June 12, 2012
USAID Project Launches Newest Grand Challenge: Powering Agriculture
Today 1.4 billion people lack access to clean energy. The impact of this limited energy access is particularly pronounced in the agricultural sectors of developing countries, which often have extremely low rural electrification rates. The lack of modern energy services affects every aspect of the agricultural value chain, from irrigation and harvesting to processing and storage. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, it is estimated that 70 percent of the additional food required to feed the world in 2050 will come from agricultural intensification—the process of producing more food on the same parcel of land. Increasing access to clean energy is critical to sustainably intensifying production and meeting growing global food needs.
To address these issues, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, (Sida), Duke Energy, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and USDA, on June 12 launched Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development. The challenge was launched at USAID’s Frontiers in Development three-day conference in Washington, D.C.
With support from the DAI-led Grand Challenges for Development team, the initiative aims to increase clean energy access and support economic growth in the developing world through finding and scaling effective, clean energy solutions for farmers and agribusinesses. Success will result in enhanced food security and increased economic resiliency in the host communities.
Powering Agriculture focuses on two areas:
- Technology innovation and business model development for clean energy solutions
- Technology commercialization and business growth
Through the Grand Challenges for Development initiative, USAID works to catalyze focused action directed at solving long-standing development challenges, such as limited access to modern energy services. Since kickoff, USAID has received hundreds of submissions from around the world on ways to solve its first two Grand Challenges: “Saving Lives at Birth,” and “All Children Reading.” “Saving Lives at Birth” has already awarded a round of cash prizes that are helping fund top ideas or scale-up ongoing, innovative programs that address mother and child mortality