SUDAN– A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) led solar energy program has transformed Sudanese agriculture, increasing land use and productivity by nearly 50%, The Africa Energy Portal has reported.

UNDP reports that the solar energy programme was funded by a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) grant to a tune of $4.4 million.

 UNDP used the funds to install 29 solar-pumped farms in the Sahara-encompassed Northern State to demonstrate the potential of renewables in transforming the economy of Sudan.

Agriculture offers significant opportunities in Sudan but often relies on diesel-powered water pumps.

The introduction of solar technology by UNDP has increased land use and productivity in Sudan by nearly 50%.

“Solar energy has really made our lives easier, we used to buy a lot of gasoline and spare parts for the pumps and bring it over using small canoes,” said Abdel Rahman Isam Ahmed, one of the beneficiaries of the program.

 “Now, we come over only to see how far the plants have grown, we really have less things to worry about now,” Abdel Rahman Isam Ahmed.

UNDP noted that solar energy programme in Sudan provided farmers with reliable, constant power, significantly reducing threat of ruinous losses from incomplete farming cycles due to a lack of fuel.

As a result of the successful implementation of the solar energy programme, Sudanese farmers planted confidently, increasing cultivated land by 46%.

According to the UNDP, continuous water supply and reductions in fuel shortages and maintenance downtime increased crop yields and growing time per season.

UNDP also noted that this allowed farmers in sudan to produce year-round, as well as introduce new, higher-value crops like cotton, lemons, and mangos.

“The output from growing date palms using solar pumps is covering the expenses of three families in our household,” explained Abdel Rahman Isam Ahmed, a farmer in Nothern Sudan.

Abdel Rahman successes was replicated across the 29 farms, with 257kWp of solar-generated energy cultivating 463 acres in total.

The solar energy programme which UNDP conducted on a trial basis provided two years (four seasons) of crucial data and experience from farmers which will be used in rolling out an additional 1,440 pumps by 2022.

Once completed, the 1,469-pump project is expected to eliminate 860,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the pumps’ 20-year lifespan – roughly the same as 186,000 cars – and save 268,800 metric tons of diesel.

Complementing this, an additional 450 solar pumps are planned in River Nile State with support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

To support the uptake of solar energy, the Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organization (SSMO) and UNDP are establishing a ‘Solar Lab’.

The lab launching later this year, will test and certify solar imports, and address consumer concerns around counterfeit or low-quality systems.

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