Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development
Powering Agriculture followed the Grand Challenges for Development model to draw resources and address needs at the intersection of the energy and agriculture sectors of the developing world.
Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (Powering Agriculture) was a partnership of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Government of Germany (BMZ), Duke Energy Corporation, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). It was launched in 2012 to address needs at the intersection of the energy and agriculture sectors of the developing world. December 2019 marked the conclusion of its formal phase.
Through Powering Agriculture, the Founding Partners sought to support the development and deployment of clean energy innovations that stimulate low-carbon economic growth in the agriculture sectors of developing countries to help end extreme poverty and extreme hunger.
An Energy Grand Challenge for Development
Powering Agriculture followed the Grand Challenges for Development model, which mobilizes governments, companies, and foundations around important issues. Through these programs, USAID and public and private partners bring in new voices to solve development problems. They source new solutions, test new ideas, and scale what works.
- SDG 1: No Poverty
- SDG 2: Zero Hunger/Sustainable Agriculture
- SDG 5: Gender Equality
- SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- SDG 8: Economic Growth
- SDG 9: Innovation
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
A Four-pronged Approach
Powering Agriculture concurrently focused on the energy and agriculture sectors through a four-pronged approach, supporting technology and business innovation, access to financing, mainstreaming and scaling, and knowledge management:
- Technology and Business Model Innovation: Powering Agriculture provided innovation grants ($500,000–$2,000,000) to 24 innovator grantees to design, pilot, and deploy clean energy solutions at different points along the agricultural production cycle. The innovators implemented activities in 22 countries over the course of the Grand Challenge.
- Financing Facility: Powering Agriculture leveraged funds for a global financing facility to mobilize private sector equity and debt investments within the clean energy/agriculture space, and partnered with AlphaMundi and FACTOR[e] to form the Powering Agriculture Investment Alliance.
- Mainstreaming: Powering Agriculture worked to draw attention to the importance of the clean energy-agriculture nexus and the role it can play in increasing agricultural productivity, utilizing the Powering Agriculture Regional Hub in East Africa and collaborating with U.S. presidential initiatives such as Power Africa and Feed the Future to integrate clean energy solutions within regional/national agriculture production and food security programs.
- Knowledge Management: Powering Agriculture served as a clean energy and agricultural information resource hub for people around the world by providing knowledge products that contain detailed data on the policy, financing, gender, and agriculture-specific energy requirements to end extreme poverty and extreme hunger in developing countries.
The Founding Partners
The Founding Partners made financial and in-kind contributions to Powering Agriculture’s activities. Financial contributions were pooled and administered by USAID on behalf of the Partners to implement core program activities. In addition, in-kind contributions were made as technical assistance resources that individual Partners committed to support the goals of Powering Agriculture; they were managed by the individual Partners themselves.
The American people, through USAID, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years. USAID served as the administrator of Powering Agriculture, managing financial disbursements to innovators, and supporting implementers and Investment Alliance partners.
Government of Sweden
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish Parliament and Government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. Through the Agency’s work and in cooperation with others, Sida contributes to the implementation of Sweden’s Policy for Global Development.
Sida’s support to Powering Agriculture was coordinated from the Unit for Global Cooperation on Environment at the Department for International Policy Support. The support primarily consisted of providing financing for the program, including grants for Powering Agriculture innovators. Sida also financed a study on the analysis of gender perspectives and gender integration in the clean energy-agriculture nexus, which included a gender gap analysis for individual Powering Agriculture innovators and provided tailored recommendations and tools for gender integration in their business strategies and plans. To learn more, visit sida.se/english.
Government of Germany
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), develops the guidelines and fundamental concepts on which German development policy are based. It devises long-term strategies for cooperation with the players concerned and defines the rules for implementing that cooperation. These are the foundations for developing shared projects with partner countries and international development organizations. All efforts are informed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) implemented the German contribution to Powering Agriculture on behalf of BMZ. The GIZ project Sustainable Energy for Food—Powering Agriculture not only contributed to the global initiative but reinforced Powering Agriculture’s efforts via additional pilot projects, research, and capacity development. GIZ ran the Nairobi-based Powering Agriculture Regional Hub for East Africa to take advantage of the vast potential of the clean energy-agriculture nexus and to capitalize on the fact that most Powering Agriculture innovators implemented projects in that region. With staff on the ground, the Hub’s activities included pilot projects and studies as well as capacity building. The Hub functioned as an accelerator for regional and supra-regional knowledge exchange, with a focus on the Powering Agriculture innovators located in the region. To learn more, visit bmz.de/en.
Duke Energy Corporation
Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power companies in the United States, supplies services in a sustainable manner: affordable, reliable, and clean. Duke Energy’s support for Powering Agriculture was coordinated by Duke’s Federal Government Affairs unit. To learn more, visit duke-energy.com.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation
OPIC was the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. In 2019, OPIC merged with USAID’s Development Credit Authority to become the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). DFC mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because DFC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzes revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. DFC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds. Support for Powering Agriculture was coordinated by OPIC’s Agriculture and Project Finance unit. To learn more, visit dfc.gov.