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African Farming weekly digest - 12th - 16th June

CIAT Flickr for AF 307Here is a brief overview of the week’s news on African Farming, from 12th - 16th June 2017

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Philips Lighting begin the largest LED horticultural lighting project in the world

PhilipsLightingAgro InvestCheLED grow lights will illuminate greenhouses occupying an area the size of 40 football pitches


Philips Lighting announced on 14 June that it will provide LLC Agro-Invest, Russia’s most innovative greenhouse produce company, with LED grow lights to support cultivation of tomatoes and cucumbers in greenhouses covering an area of more than 25 hectares (equivalent in size to about 40 soccer pitches).

The project, which is the largest LED horticultural lighting project ever undertaken, will enable year-round growing, help boost yields - especially in the winter - and will save 50 percent on energy costs compared to conventional high-pressure sodium lighting. The project also underlines a global trend for large-scale LED horticultural lighting implementations that can support demand for locally grown produce. 

This project could revolutionise farming and agricultural techniques across the world, particularly in regions where farming is severely affected by unpredictable and adverse weather. 

The project, which is the largest LED horticultural lighting project ever undertaken, will enable year-round growing, help boost yields - especially in the winter - and will save 50 per cent on energy costs compared to conventional high-pressure sodium lighting. The project also underlines a global trend for large-scale LED horticultural lighting implementations that can support demand for locally grown produce. 

“We have a reputation for innovation on a large scale and LED grow lights are definitely the future. They deliver the right light for the plant, exactly when and where the plant needs it the most, while radiating far less heat than conventional lighting. This allows us to place them closer to the plants,” said Irina Meshkova, Deputy CEO and General Director, Agro-Invest. “Thanks to this technology we will be able to increase yields in the darker months of the year, and significantly reduce our energy usage,” she added.

“This LED horticultural project is the largest in the world. It will reduce the electricity consumed to light the crop by up to 50 percent compared with conventional horticultural lighting and uses light recipes designed to boost quality and crop yields by up to 30 percent in the dark period of the winter,” said Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s horticultural lighting business. “Our grow lights are the perfect supplement to natural daylight so that crops can be grown efficiently throughout the year. The project also highlights a growing international trend to replace imports with domestically grown produce, reducing food miles and ensuring freshness,” he added.

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IFTEX17 reconfirms leading position of Kenya in world flower sector

5The sixth edition of the international flower trade expo IFTEX ended successfully last Friday in the Nairobi Based Oshwal Center, the venue of this annual organised flower event

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African Farming weekly digest - 5th - 9th June

CIAT Flickr for AFHere is a brief overview of the week’s news on African Farming, from 5th-9th June 2017

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UN: Digitisation of Kenyan farmer payments helps tackle poverty

Job Promo ImageOne Acre Fund cut payment losses and collection costs by over 80 per cent, boosting farmers’ satisfaction and economic opportunity 


A new case study by the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance shows how agriculture nonprofit organization One Acre Fund, in partnership with Citi Inclusive Finance, successfully digitised loan repayments for farmers in Kenya. This move significantly boosted transparency and efficiency, driving economic opportunity and financial inclusion for thousands of smallholder farmers and their families.

One Acre Fund, supported by Citi, enabled farmers to easily make loan repayments via mobile money instead of cash, reducing the uncertainty, inefficiency, insecurity and high costs previously caused by cash transactions.

One Acre Fund can now reach more farmers with greater reliability, and staff can spend almost half as much time collecting payments in cash, using that extra time to help farmers increase their incomes through training and educational programs. With One Acre Fund’s package of services, including training and inputs like seed and fertiliser, the average farmer participating in the program earned nearly 50 per cent more than peer farmers who do not participate. 

Study findings include: Increased participant satisfaction due to transparency and convenience, eighty-five per cent decreased instances of repayment fraud, reduced processing time for each repayment from 12-16 days to 2-4 days; farmers now know immediately when their payment is received, eliminating the worry about whether it arrived, eighty per cent decrease in repayment processing costs, forty-six per cent of time reduced for staff working on collections, allowing for more time helping farmers improve agricultural practices and women farmers benefited especially, feeling safer about payment deliveries.

“Mobile repayments have allowed us to increase our efficiency and provide better service to farmers,” said Mike Warmington, the Director of Microfinance Partnerships at One Acre Fund. “We’re excited to be working at the forefront of this technology in the smallholder agriculture lending sector. In our experience, farmers were empowered to thrive in these communities. Clients receive immediate confirmation of payments as they happen, enabling them to better manage their businesses and family finances.”

One Acre Fund is an example of the significant benefits and impact that digital payments and inclusive digital financial infrastructure, as developed in Kenya, can bring to agricultural value chains, contributing to a more sustainable and productive agriculture sector, a cornerstone of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These learnings can easily translate to poor farming communities in other countries and One Acre Fund is working on plans to expand in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia in the future.

“For companies and nonprofit organizations who want to work in rural Africa, this success story is a must-read,” said Oswell Kahonde, Africa Regional Lead at the Better Than Cash Alliance. “Digital payments are essential to building sustainable business models and creating long-term impact. By enabling smallholder farmers to make and receive payments digitally, we are creating transparency and accountability which translates to numerous benefits and empowers people to take control of their finances.”  

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