FAO INVESTA: Clean energy technologies for the Tunisian milk sector


The FAO INVESTA (Investing in Energy Sustainable Technologies in the Agrifood Sector) project organized a workshop in Tunis from 5-6 October to validate the results of a cost-benefit analysis for milk technologies in Tunisia. It also looked at non-financial costs and benefits of energy technologies in food value chains, both at intervention-level (e.g. farm or processing plant) and at national-level.

“Agriculture is a very important economic sector in Tunisia, consuming 10% of national energy, unleashing a huge potential for the solar energy sector” said Ms. Ben Rjab, representative of the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries in her opening remarks.

Due to Tunisia’s extreme vulnerability to climate change, high initial costs of solar technologies and regional differences inside the country, sustainable energy alternatives need to be identified.

The participants, key stakeholders from the private, public and financial sector, discussed the viability of biogas for electricity from manure, and solar milk coolers as well as workable solutions to facilitate its adoption in Tunisia’s agriculture sector. They also covered topics including the link between solar cooling technologies and the quality of milk, the payback time, the value added along the value chain, the hypotheses used for monetizing environmental and social co-benefits, as well as financing models and lessons learned.

The energy sector is highly subsidized in Tunisia, and the baseline situation (e.g. diesel generators, grid electricity or no previous access to energy) has a major impact on the net benefits from the introduction of energy technologies. The workshop participants highlighted that despite being currently very expensive for small farmers, solar energy is becoming increasingly competitive for applications such as water pumping on farm or milk cooling.

The outcomes of the workshop will be included in an upcoming report on the FAO INVESTA project.

INVESTA is a two-year FAO project that was launched in 2015 to support the development of clean energy solutions in the agri-food sector.