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Unlocking renewables

Mercy Corp illustration

Upskilling farmers in developing countries

Energy offers sustainable solutions to smallholders in developing countries. Solar energy harnesses the power of the sun and put greater opportunity within the reach of rural farmers.

“The Greening Agriculture project, in partnership with Lloyd’s, not only gives real, tangible support to 100 smallholder farmers, it also offers Mercy Corps Zimbabwe an opportunity to test the effectiveness and efficiency of renewable energy solutions for smallholders, whilst addressing some of the challenges around climate change and sustainable livestock production systems.”
Alex Nyakatsapa, Mercy Corps’ Value Chain & Market Development Specialist in Zimbabwe

With recent geopolitical shifts driving up food and energy prices, the cost of living is becoming a significant concern for an increasing number of people across the world. And for food producers in developing countries, changing prices can have a dramatic impact on their communities and livelihoods. Lloyd’s wants to go further in tying our business and community activities into making society more resilient, more sustainable and more inclusive.

An example of this is our partnership with humanitarian organisation Mercy Corps on the Greening Agriculture project. Mercy Corps programmes aim to upskill rural farmers in developing countries through a combination of implementing ecologically sound renewable technology, agribusiness training, and engaging more young people and women in agricultural enterprises. The ease and cost of access to water and power are a significant challenge for the agricultural sector in many developing nations; and renewable energy solutions can play a key role in providing farmers with better access to both, particularly in the dry subtropical climates of Africa.

The challenges faced by these farmers often prevent them from reaching their full potential within the smallholder sector, and this can compromise overall household food security and nutrition. Among smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe, women and youths have historically had to travel long distances to fetch water. The introduction of solar-powered supply systems is helping to reduce the amount of hours spent collecting water, making the farmers’ work easier and their working practices more cost-effective and sustainable, while also contributing towards a more inclusive farming industry in the country.

Despite their major involvement in, and contribution to, livestock management, women and young people have tended to have more restricted access to resources and more limited participation in decisions when compared to men. This is exacerbated by time taken collecting water, which forces them to travel for many hours a day. While women's contribution to agricultural production is beginning to grow, there is a pressing need for support to further increase women’s access, ownership and control of resources - including technology that helps address these needs.

The Greening Agriculture project provides an opportunity to women and youth farmers for learning, adapting, and scaling up best practices in pork production, while improving their business management skills, ultimately creating a more inclusive and sustainable model for smallholder farming that can be expanded to other districts over time.

In addition to providing training in the use of solar energy systems, the Mercy Corps project is also an opportunity to test the effectiveness of these renewable energy solutions, while addressing climate change issues and the future of sustainable livestock production. The women and young people involved are excited to be taking part, and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow their pig production enterprises. More broadly, other members of farmer associations will also benefit from the training being offered by Mercy Corps.

The Greening Agriculture project, with Lloyd’s support, is building resilience against the impacts of climate change and increasing the reach of renewable energy programmes. It’s improving sustainability by equipping communities with long-term skills and implementing next-generation green solutions. And it’s inclusive - focusing on women and youth farmers while helping developing economies more broadly to partake in global growth and the transition to net zero. 

“We are delighted to be able to continue our partnership with Lloyd’s on the Greening Agriculture project, providing smallholder farmers with an opportunity for learning, adapting, and scaling up best practices.”
Alex Nyakatsapa, Mercy Corps

About the Greening Agriculture project

The Greening Agriculture project in Zimbabwe, run by Mercy Corps and supported by Lloyd’s, is playing a significant role in the development of an inclusive and diversified agricultural sector in the country. The project is focused on promoting green economic growth and improving business management skills and income levels for smallholders - women and young people in particular - by reducing labour and production costs.

Mercy Corps is working with up to 100 women and young people who are smallholder farmers in  pork production in Zimbabwe’s Murehwa, Seke, Goromonzi and Marondera districts, helping these farmers access water through solar powered supplies. The Mercy Corps project involves capacity building training for business management skills, training in the use of solar energy systems, the administration of ‘smart subsidies’, the delivery of review and planning workshops, and the introduction of ‘look and learn’ sessions for women and youth farmers.

Mercy Corps has carried out district-level stakeholder engagement exercises, including strategies for achieving high impact and long-term sustainability, and has also conducted inception workshops to develop a consensus on project goals, objectives, activities, and implementation frameworks.

Mercy Corps’ Greening Agriculture in Zimbabwe Project also complements the Value Chain Alliance for Livestock Upgrading and Empowerment Project, an initiative funded by the European Union (EU), which is also part of the EU-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Program, set to run until the beginning of 2023.

Community involvement

At Lloyd’s, we have a long history of working to support the communities around us. Through the Lloyd’s charities and the support of our market, we helped people and communities become more resilient, more sustainable, and more inclusive for over 200 years.