According to the African Economic Outlook, only four percent of Africa’s population earns more than $10 a day. That is hardly enough money to buy food for a family, let alone pay for the energy required to transport and prepare it. This is why DuPont has committed to work in the region, investing more than $3 million over the next three years to help smallholder farmers in Ethiopia achieve food security.
The Energy-Food Nexus
Energy usage has a direct impact on global food security. Achieving it in most African communities requires increasing both the productivity and sustainability of the farming system. Due to a lack of access to reliable energy, farmers either cannot prepare and cultivate their land properly or cannot harvest, store and process their yield to maximize their return. The World Economic Forum recently hosted leaders from around the world in Ethiopia to discuss the significant transformation and monumental growth the African continent is experiencing and, specifically, the energy problem. I was pleased to participate in the Ending Energy Poverty panel session which focused on solutions to provide electricity to the hundreds of millions of Africans that do not have regular access to affordable energy. While this discussion is important across public and private sectors, solutions are required today.
Solar Solutions Illuminate a Path Forward
DuPont is working on a variety of unique solutions and innovations to help resolve the energy crisis in Africa and around the world. For example, DuPont’s Photovoltaic Solutionsprovide some of the world’s most innovative materials for improving solar technology. Some of the ways we think solar energy can be used to solve the energy problem for farming are:
- Photovoltaic-powered water pumping systems can meet crop irrigation, livestock watering and other domestic needs.
- Powering electric fans for air circulation. Modern pig and poultry farms double and even triple production by raising the animals in controlled environment buildings.
- Lighting agricultural buildings can significantly extend working hours and increase productivity.
- Solar powered cell phone charging stations can connect farmers with markets and other valuable resources.
Continuing New Investments in Agriculture
Even if we improve the energy situation, additional investments in agriculture are still required to address food production in Africa. DuPont is doing more in this area and has announced a number of new commitments including:
- Investing $2 million to expand seed production and storage facilities in Ethiopia.
- Investing $1 million over three years for a pilot project with the Earth Institute of Columbia University to create a rapid soil information system to aid Ethiopian farmers with an effective way to diagnose soil constraints in the field and receive recommendations to improve crop yields.
- DuPont’s Crop Protection business will work to develop a sulfonylurea weed control offering for wheat to improve productivity, bring novel insect control solutions for cotton and vegetables, and train farmers on the responsible use of crop protection products.
- Collaborating with USAID to upgrade agronomic practices and inputs of smallholder Ethiopian maize farmers and increase the profitability of their farms.
Together, with innovative solutions and investment, we can make a difference. DuPont already has sales in 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and employs more than 500 people on the continent. We have pledged to commit additional local resources to solving these issues for Africa, including recruiting local talent to run our research and operations in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa, and ensure the solutions we develop are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
Ian Hudson President – DuPont Europe, Middle East & Africa