Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

25 January 2013

Namibia: Grand Challenge for Agri Energy

USAID, the government of Sweden and Duke Energy are inviting Namibian organizations and individuals to submit proposals for Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC), a global funding competition focused on supporting new and sustainable approaches to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy solutions for increasing agriculture productivity in developing countries.

The awards, which are between U$300,000 and U$1,500,000 are available to organizations that can offer market-based, clean energy solutions for agriculture. The ideas should improve agricultural production and reduce hunger.

When the head of USAID, Rajiv Shah, created the programme he called "Grand Challenges for Development," he saw it as a way to collaborate with and engage the private sector and the public to find innovative, market based solutions to the most persistent development challenges. Powering Agriculture is the third of these Grand Challenges. The latest request for proposals acknowledges a changing world for international development.

While traditional development institutions, such as USAID, have a central role to play in meeting the needs of the rural poor, Powering Agriculture showcases the critical importance and incredible value that is added through partnerships among public and private entities. USAID said in a statement, "these types of partnerships build on mutual strengths and overcome weaknesses. Working together, we are ensuring that development is done more quickly and that it more effectively helps us meet more people's needs."

The motive for the Grand Challenge rests on the assumption that fossil fuel is too expensive for agricultural use. Inviting organisations to invent energy efficient farming fuels, creates a pool of proven technologies that assist rural farmers to improve and expand.

From mid-January, USAID/Powering Agriculture has begun accepting applications and, from these applications, will fund projects and ideas which truly transform agriculture in the developing world. The process started last week and application will be accepted until 06 February 2013. More information can be obtained through the office of USAID.

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