by Allison Archambault
On Dec 11, USAID and its partners announced EarthSpark International as a winner of Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development. More than 475 organizations from 80 countries applied to the Powering Agriculture Grand Challenge in this inaugural round, offering market-based, clean energy innovations for the agricultural sphere in developing countries. Twelve winners were selected.
The $1.1 million in grant funding will enable EarthSpark to expand its existing microgrid in Les Anglais to a town-sized, solar-diesel hybrid, smart grid to serve both residential and commercial customers, including agricultural processing facilities. The funding also supports local entrepreneurs in evaluating upgrades to existing and potential agricultural processing facilities in Les Anglais.
Here is a summary of our proposal:
Problem/Opportunity: In Haiti 75% of the country’s population lacks access to electricity, and farmers frequently lose the value of their crops for want of infrastructure and processing equipment. Where processing facilities do exist, they are typically diesel powered and expensive to operate. This imposes a severe limitation on farmers’ ability to process agricultural goods, capture the value of their products, and improve their livelihoods.
Clean Energy Solution: EarthSpark will expand its existing electricity system in Les Anglais, adding solar generation and expanding smart controls, to deliver affordable, reliable, clean energy to community members, farmers and agribusinesses in a financially sustainable way. By providing technical guidance and facilitating access to financing for local partners, EarthSpark will assist agribusinesses with upgrading to efficient electric mills to modernize local processing for rice, sorghum, coffee, and corn. The project will specifically focus on highly nutritious breadfruit crops that typically rot due to lack of processing. Converting the fruit to flour or chips extends the shelf life by months and significantly increases the value and marketability locally, nationally, and abroad.
Impact: By reducing agricultural waste and enabling value-added processing, the project will boost agribusiness incomes as well as provide surrounding residents with access to electricity, utilizing pre-pay smart meters. The project will demonstrate a sustainable business model for the local microgrid, for agribusiness’ upgrading to efficient electric mills, and for breadfruit processing.
EarthSpark International is a US-based, non-profit organization with over four years’ experience working with communities, businesses, and government to bring energy access to Haiti’s un-electrified population. Through its local brand Enèji Pwòp, EarthSpark is an established and recognized brand in Haiti with the track record and infrastructure to scale up its clean energy and microgrid activities.