In a prime example of south-south tech transfer, three interrelated REEEP-funded projects have succeeding in transferring a Brazilian model for helping subsistence farmers out of poverty to Mozambique.
The original idea was to provide Brazilian farmers with financing for clean energy systems to add value to the crops they produce. Loans empowered farmers to adopt technologies such as micro-irrigation systems that enable them to raise crops out of season, the construction of hydroponic systems that allow them raise crops where there is little water available, and the use of solar dryers to produce high-value dried fruits and herbs.
This Energy Millennium Development Goal Financing Facility (E-MDG-F) began in 2008 as a pilot program in the State of Alagoas and the City of João Pessoa, in Brazil’s impoverished Northeast.
A follow-up REEEP-funded project, “Cornucopia hybrid finance for renewable energy in agriculture” upscaled the financing of micro-irrigation, solar pumps and solar dryers for fruits and herbs, and provided for the replication of this approach through a third REEEP project in Mozambique. There, REEEP funded the expansion of a business coaching and investor matchmaking service called PFAN (Private Advisory Financing Network), and as part of this initiative, transferred the Brazilian expertise in adding value to crops to Mozambique.
The transfer began with the installation of the first hydroponic system in Mozambique in 2009. Using this ultra efficient technology, Lozane Farms successfully demonstrated the commercial viability of two crops, green chili peppers and lettuce. In both cases, there was a short payback on system installation costs of US$ 5,700; less than a year for chili and 18 months for lettuce.
The high yields and quality of the produce, isolated from water-borne diseases common in Mozambican agriculture, have since led to fixed-price contracts from local supermarket chains to supply both products year-round. This demand will require Lozane to construct at least four additional systems to meet current market demand.
The success has put Lozane Farms on the map politically as well. A succession of prominent visitors, including the Prime Minister, the Minster of Agriculture, the Governor, and other national, provincial, and district officials have come to Lozane to understand the potential of the systems to provide significant incomes on small plots in semi-arid areas.
The Innovations Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology Innovations in Nampula, Province has ordered a hydroponics system for demonstration, promising to feature it in an ad campaign and to promote with NGOs who are developing smallholder agriculture in the province. In light of the anticipated demand for the systems, Lozane Farms has decided to commercialise hydroponics kits.
In addition to their direct commercial interests, Lozane Farms agreed, as a condition of the technology transfer, to use the proceeds from the first system to finance a system for a second group of farmers, who would do the same for a third group. In addition, they will be offering to finance systems for some of the farmers who work on their larger holdings in Nampula.
But the transfer won’t stop with just hydroponics. In a mission in August, 2010 Jose Roberto Fonseca of Brazil’s Instituto Eco-Engenho brought brochures, studies and designs for a variety of other technologies to Mozambique. These included drip irrigation systems and solar dryers. Lozane Farms immediately appreciated the value of the solar dryer for adding value to fruits and fish, avoiding spoilage from over-production or temporary inability to bring fresh products to market. In addition, they see a significant market for dried foods in the semi-arid areas of the country. While Lozane Farm has not yet completed construction of the first solar dryer, they have begun discussions with government officials and NGOs about purchasing solar dryer kits for a variety of projects.