The Powering Agriculture Approach

Speeches Shim

Powering Agriculture: Our Program
For six years, Powering Agriculture supported the development and deployment of clean energy innovations in the agriculture sector of developing countries. Follow the stories of Claro Energy, University of Georgia Research Foundation, and Futurepump—three Powering Agriculture innovators whose innovative solar irrigation and cold storage technologies have improved their communities’ livelihoods.

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 & Business Model Innovation

Powering Agriculture issued global calls for innovation in 2012 and 2014 to source solutions within the clean energy-agriculture nexus that:

  • Enhanced agricultural yields/productivity;
  • Decreased post-harvest loss;
  • Improved farmer and agribusiness income generating opportunities and revenues; or
  • Increased energy efficiency and associated savings within farms and agribusinesses, while stimulating low-carbon economic growth within the agriculture sectors of developing countries.

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.

In addition, Powering Agriculture Founding Partner GIZ supported nine small-scale technology development pilot efforts through in-kind contributions.

Financing Facility

Powering Agriculture leveraged funds to mobilize private sector equity and debt investments within the clean energy-agriculture nexus and partnered with AlphaMundi and FACTOR[e] to form the Powering Agriculture Investment Alliance in 2018. It was tasked with catalyzing at least $25 million in private sector finance for ventures with the potential to achieve transformational development impacts in the clean energy-agriculture nexus. By Powering Agriculture’s end in December 2019, the Investment Alliance had catalyzed $1.2 million in funds and had invested in two companies. The Investment Alliance will continue through June 2021.


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. Highlighting the innovators’ work and sharing the knowledge and experiences gained through the Grand Challenge was an important means of achieving that goal. Key mainstreaming achievements included:

  • Over the course of the Grand Challenge, Powering Agriculture’s social media platforms amassed 6,850 followers, who received the latest updates on innovator and program progress, news, and activities.
  • Powering Agriculture utilized the Regional Hub in East Africa and collaborated 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.
  • By engaging CLASP, a non-governmental organization working to improve the energy and environmental performance of everyday appliances and equipment, Powering Agriculture promoted the growth of the solar irrigation pump market through a results-based financing mechanism that incentivized the large-scale distribution of pumps in seven countries.
  • Through its in-kind contributions, GIZ placed a particular focus on capacity development, organizing more than 50 trainings with 2,500 participants on such topics as renewable energy and energy efficiency in agriculture, solar-powered irrigation or cooling, and a Massive-Open Online Course with more than 1,400 participants.
  • Powering Agriculture Founding Partner GIZ promoted the use of solar-powered irrigation systems through mainstreaming and capacity building efforts, including the development of a web-based toolbox and associated trainings.

Knowledge Management

Powering Agriculture served as a clean energy and agricultural information resource hub for people around the world by developing two online knowledge management platforms and producing numerous publications and studies to reinforce the generation, analysis, dissemination, and application of knowledge on the clean energy-agriculture nexus. These resources promoted the integration of clean energy solutions within agricultural supply chains, and to support their adoption in developing countries. Powering Agriculture’s publications included:

  • Three case studies on clean energy technology deployment;
  • Six guides on gender integration and one summary report;
  • Three studies on accessing financing for innovators scaling clean energy solutions;
  • One policy guide;
  • One mid-term evaluation and one final evaluation; and
  • Nearly 30 studies on harnessing energy for increased agricultural productivity.