Boosting agricultural productivity in rural Senegal

27th Sep 2019

Dakar, Senegal: InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed a Convertible Loan Agreement with Bonergie Irrigation SASU (Bonergie Irrigation), committing US$320,000 to pioneer delivery of Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) for use by small-scale farmers in Senegal. Senegal’s farmers largely depend upon the country’s rainy season, limiting yields and leaving them vulnerable to fluctuating rainfall.

InfraCo Africa and solar equipment specialist, Bonergie Senegal, have established a local Special Purpose Vehicle, Bonergie  Irrigation, to produce and implement high quality irrigation systems across rural Senegal. Expected to be operational in 2020, the first phase of the project will deliver 100 SPIS; replacing existing diesel pumps or providing small-scale farmers with first time access to irrigation.

“We are delighted to be working with Bonergie Irrigation to progress this innovative project,” said Kodjo Afidegnon, InfraCo Africa’s Regional Director (West Africa). “Senegal’s small-scale farmers currently rely on a short rainy season to grow their crops, and existing diesel micro-irrigation pumps are inefficient and expensive to run.” He continued, “We expect the project to demonstrate the value of high quality SPIS as a sustainable irrigation solution for Senegal’s small-scale farmers.

Solar powered irrigation is an evolving sector and access to finance has proved challenging to date. The Bonergie Irrigation project will pilot the use of a Hire Purchase Agreement (HPA) with farmers, under which each farmer will pay for an irrigation system over a period of 18 months. At the end of the HPA period, each farmer will become energy autonomous, owning his or her system outright, with the option to enter into a maintenance agreement with Bonergie Irrigation.  The choice of unit will be tailored to the needs of individual farmers and the project will provide water management training.

“Bonergie is very happy that InfraCo Africa is entering into a partnership with us.  Solar pumping and irrigation have huge market potential, with a particularly strong impact on small and medium scale farmers; empowering them to become profitable while reducing the amount of diesel they use, and therefore their CO² emissions. Having this strong and experienced partner on our side will enable Bonergie to scale our already successful Business Model. Bonergie is setting up a Last Mile Distribution Network with offices in all regions of Senegal, work which will certainly be reinforced by this partnership.” Gabriele Schwarz, Founder of Bonergie and President of Bonergie Irrigation.

With all finance now in place, it is anticipated that the roll out of solar irrigation systems to 100 farmers will be completed in 2020. If successful, InfraCo Africa plans to invest in a further phase to substantially increase access to solar powered irrigation across the country, multiplying the benefits for reducing farmer’s operational costs and CO² emissions, enhancing household incomes and delivering greater food security for rural families.

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