Knowing water better: towards fairer and more sustainable access to natural resources - KnoWat

Solar-powered irrigation in Rwanda: Sustainable energy solutions for food production


Energy: it is used for cooking, heating, electricity and transport in many places around the world. But did you know, it also has a central role in putting the food on your plate?  

Globally, the agri-food value chain consumes 30 percent of the world’s available energy. Energy is needed in the production of crops, fish, livestock and forestry products, food storage and processing, food transport and distribution and, of course, in food preparation. 

Though the availability of fossil fuels has made a significant contribution to feeding the world, these energy sources are finite and, in general, environmentally problematic. The most viable solution for reducing agri-food systems’ use of fossil fuels while reaching food productivity targets is a shift towards more sustainable, renewable energy sources.

Through the KnoWat – Knowing water better project, FAO set up solar-powered irrigation systems to increase the efficiency of irrigating fields and support the livelihoods of farmers in Rwanda. The project delivered three portable solar pumps and accessories to farmers in the Yanze Horticulture Production Cooperative of Vegetable Growers. This is the first time solar-powered irrigation systems have been introduced in Rulindo district. 

Unlike irrigation equipment with motorized pumps, farmers don’t have to buy expensive fuel to run them. Each solar-powered irrigation system can supply 40 liters of water per minute, with the solar panel collecting up to 500 watts of energy per day. 

Read more about the Solar-powered irrigation in Rwanda and other clean energy solutions FAO is implementing around the world: “Three sustainable energy solutions for food production and places where they are used”.

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