This project aims to enhance the agricultural production and to develop the transformation of the agro-pastoral production in rural areas of Sahel, by means of appropriate technologies, powered by renewable energies
The beneficiaries are about 200.000 inhabitants of three regions of Niger (mainly rural areas), young and women's groups.
A drip irrigation system powered by solar energy has been installed to demonstrate the benefits of this technique.
Two centres for the transformation of food and its packaging, powered by photovoltaic systems, have been set up in rural areas, and their production and sells are steadily rising as new markets open.
A production of pellet from hay for livestock has been set up, together with a production of pellets from agricultural residues. Those last are being used as fuel for cooking purposes in gasification stoves, instead of forest wood, as a contribute to stop deforestation.
Terre Solidali Onlus - ItalyLead applicant
RESEDA - NigerInitiative partner
Reseda is a group of enterprises, associations and NGOs, set up in 2001. It has competences in terms of consuelling, building and training. Since its start RESEDA puts stress on the enhancement of the quality of life of users, the strengthening of their revenues, and the number of jobs created. RESEDA puts renewable energies first, and has a special attention towards women activities. Reseda works in the field of water raising by means of hand operated and electrical pumps, mobile and fixed PV powered pumps; in the field of solar drying of foods with the building of different types of solar driers; food transformation for seed grinding and oil extraction. Reseda works on the building of buildings without wood, with presses to produce bricks. In the field of trainiing Reseda provides studies and consuelling in the above cited fields, feasibility studies, local development plans for communities, management in the development of projects, development and realization of innovations.
Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning - ItalyInitiative partner
The Interuniversity Department of REGIONAL AND URBAN STUDIES AND PLANNING (DIST) is the point of reference in Politecnico and Università di Torino for the areas of knowledge that study the processes of territorial transformation and government, both on a local and on a global scale. These processes are analysed from a sustainability perspective in their physical, economic, social, political and cultural aspects, as well as in their interrelationships. DIST promotes, coordinates and manages basic and applied research, training, technology transfer and services for the local community with regard to urban and regional sciences and policies, as well as to spatial, urban and environmental-landscape planning.
Promec Elettronica - ItalyInitiative partner
Promec elettronica operates in the fields of professional electronics and renewable energies. In the field of professional electronics it produces inverters, custom and industrial power transformers, special transformers for medical products (cardiology, ecography, magnetic resonance). In the field of renewable energies Promec operates with project and supply of all components for small and medium grid connected photovoltaic applications, project and supply of all components for stand alone photovoltaic applications, microturbines and turbines for micro and minihydro power applications.
The main idea of the project has been to develop the transformation of the agro-pastoral production in rural areas, in order to produce packed processed food, for it to reach relatively far markets. The lack of electricity in these areas represented a further challenge for the project. But it gave the opportunity to develop an approach based on energy supply from solar sources. To achieve the goal,two centers for food processing have been installed, completely powered by solar energy for processing, testing and packaging of products. Besides the main idea,three other important issues have been developed: to promote local agricultural production in a sustainable way with drip irrigation powered by solar energy, to promote a new type of gasification stove to stop deforestation, caused by the heavy use of woodfuel, obtained cutting the forest, and to introduce in Niger pellet food for livestock.
The project has produced several innovations.
First, the construction of two centres for food processing suitable for rural areas without electricity, that can be used as a model. Their photovoltaic systems are specifically designed with respect to tropical conditions (type and size batteries, control voltages and currents to high temperatures).
Second, the introduction of drip irrigation, a practice still largely unknown in Sahel rural areas.
Third, the beginning of a local production of pellets from biomass (mainly agricultural and pruning residues), to be used as biofuel in gasification stoves.
Fourth, introduction in Niger of the preservation of hay in the form of pellets, with improved nutrition of livestock.
These four innovations, together,represent the beginning of a new approach in the management of natural resources in Niger, with a better use of water resources, with the enhancement of the total agricultural production, and a more efficient way of cooking.
Niger is a Sahelian country where 63% of the population lives below the poverty line (UNICEF, 2013), with a 3.9% population increase per year.
Human nutrition is largely insufficient, as the local food supply is adversely affected by low skills, poor technologies, and shortage of surface water resources and energy.
However, there is a good potential for a local food production, with fertile soils and groundwater aquifers at low depth.
The project we are carrying on, strengthens food sovereignty by improving local skills, and rationalizing the use of natural resources. The project uses renewable energy to pump and distribute of water for irrigation and to power plants to perform transformation and preservation of locally produced food. The used technologies are mainly produced in Italy, and adapted to the situation of developing countries, but also directly produced in Niger, following appropriate designs set up by the project partners in several years of research and cooperation.
The main results obtained can be summarized as follows:
The start of a steady production of processed food, by drying and packaging.
The opening of new markets for local products.
The increase in cultivated areas due to the greater irrigation water efficiency.
The installation of two plants for pellet productionfrom agricultural residues and pruning.
The creation and dissemination of a new gasification stove.
The creation of direct stable employment for 75 people,workers and entrepreneurs,involved in the various activities of the project,mainly in small rural centres.
The improvement in nutritional propertiesof food for livestock, thanks to pelletizing, with a sharp reduction in volume, with a reduction in transport costs. In addition, pellets avoid the fire risks typical of the traditional storing of hay on roofs.
The creation of free time for women working in agriculture, thanks to the reduction of the harder part of their work, thanks to drip irrigation.
The main beneficiaries are about 200,000 inhabitants of the three areas of intervention (Agadez, Tillabery and Niamey regions) in Niger. The intervention areas were chosen for the diversity of their socio-economic and geographical characteristics: Agadez is in a semi-desert region with about half a million people (mostly Tuareg). The region is rich in minerals but poor in natural resources. The region of Niamey surrounds and encompasses the capital city, multi-ethnic urban center of more than one million people with an economy tied to commerce, handicrafts, and tothe main international cooperation agencies. Tillabery region is sparsely populated, mainly rural, and “favored” by the exchanges with the neighboring Burkina Faso.
Privileged partners of the project are the women's cooperatives that deal with food processing, youth associations that operate in the environmental sector, and small and medium-sized enterprises of artisans.
Coordination of activities (in Niger and from Europe) is done by the Terresolidali NGO experts, together with a scientific officer fom the University of Turin staff.
The different activities in Niger are managed by local associations that collaborate with the local Terresolidali experts and technicians. This cooperation has lasted for years and has created a “team” of technicians, with three regional coordinators based in Agadez, Niamey and Makalondi (North, Centre and South of the country), each one supported by 2 animators and trainers.
Local associations are also involved (women's cooperatives and farmers and small business artisans), and the municipalities of Makalondi, Agadez and Niamey give their full support to the initiative.
The activities employ, directly and indirectly, about 150 people, mostly young people and women, with the expression of a strong ethnic integration, a factor that has been stressed several times by local authorities.
Some errors in the installation of solar energy systems have occurred, due to the poor understanding of the instructions bya local installer. The errors have been corrected with the intervention of a technician from Promec Elettronica, and, to avoid further possible problems, by improving the assembly instructions.
The pellet making process needed to be adapted to the local biomass type, and, in the first months, a low production rate was observed, due to the low work capacity of the first machines introduced. With the experience acquired in the field, and with new electric machines with higher work capacity, thepellet quality and the production rate are now fully satisfactory.
Bags for vacuum packaging of the product were not available on the market in Niger. The two “Groupements Féminins” in Makalondi and Agadez worked togethersearching to overcome this drawback, and found the solutionby buying bags in neighboring Burkina Faso.
The environmental impact of the initiative is fairly positive.
There are no negative impacts for the operation of the food processing plants as they are electrified by means of photovoltaic arrays.
The environmental impact of pumping water for irrigation with solar power is nil as well.
The impact is negative for the use of Diesel in some equipment (transport, the first small pellet machines), but it is overcome by the better exploitation of the hay and the consequent decrease of the pressure exerted by animals on pastures.
The recent shift to electric pellet machines,makes it possible to power the pellet making operation, in the future, with solar systems.
The impact on forest resources is strongly positive as the energetic use of the pellets produced from agricultural residues and urban areas, greatly reduces the pressure on forest resources for cooking purposes, and represents a real hope against deforestation.
The project was created on the constant and active participation of the beneficiaries, and it is based particularly on the strong commitment of women's associations, artisans, and small businesses associated with the RESEDA Federation.
Beneficiaries already run autonomously most of the activity.
The increase in agricultural production and food processing generates immediate income for the involved families, a positive key factor for sustainability.
Craftsmen and small enterprises build directly on site most of the useful equipment (the Icaro driers are fully built in Niger), as well as the provision of innovative equipment.
The innovations in energy services are compatible with the skills of local management.
The immediate benefit in terms of increased food availability (production and storage) has already triggered the involvement of other actors working with the cooperation services of Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, with their Niger delegations.
Our project carried out the usual dissemination activities: seminars, web site etc. We highlight here only some of all the work and dissemination initiatives that have been triggered whenits results become known.
The Swiss Cooperation finances the production of pelletized animal food.
The Damien Foundation regularly buys our packaged food, for itstuberculosiscare Centers.
The British OXFAM NGO sent a delegation to Agadez to study our experience, and it is evaluating to replicateit in Chad.
The Prodex Project (Word Bank) started in Tchirozerine (Niger) a new food processing unitbased on our model. The women of the Agadez centre are forming by themselves the women of Tchirozerine.
OXFAM, HED Tamat, the Regional AgadezHospital are planning the launch of new processing units for the needs of malnourished children in the North health districts.
The NGO SWISS contact started a food transformation unit in Timia.
USAID MercyCorp started a food processing unit in Tabelot (Agadez Region).