Investing to support the growth of climate-resilient agriculture

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Investing to support the growth of climate-resilient agriculture

InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed an agreement with Savant Group Ltd, committing US$12 million to scale SunCulture’s solar irrigation offering across sub-Saharan Africa. The equity investment, made through InfraCo Africa’s dedicated investment arm, forms part of an oversubscribed US$27.5 million Series B fundraise set to deliver access to Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled solar powered irrigation systems to hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers by 2030. The majority of these farmers currently rely on rainfed agriculture or on the use of CO2-emitting diesel or petrol irrigation pumps.

SunCulture CEO, Samir Ibrahim, said of today’s announcement, “This is an important milestone for SunCulture, and not just from a financial perspective – it signifies a powerful vote of confidence in our vision, team, and the potential of our company. There’s a lot of work to do, and we couldn’t be more excited to build with our investors.”

SunCulture offers farmers a more sustainable route to managing climate-induced variability of rainfall and displaces the need to use expensive, polluting fuel-based pumps. The company’s unique offering involves the design, manufacture, financing, installation, and maintenance of comprehensive solar irrigation systems with safe, low-voltage DC pumps. Capable of pumping up to 1,200 litres of water per hour, the affordable systems are targeted at smallholdings of approximately 1-3 acres. The solar PV systems include sprinklers, drip irrigation and battery storage which maximise efficiency of water use by enabling farmers to irrigate their land in the early morning – minimising evaporation – and to target water to individual plants, avoiding waste. The IoT-enabled systems include remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. The battery systems also including domestic lighting and enable farmers to charge small devices such as mobile phones.

InfraCo Africa’s Chief Investment and Risk Officer, Claire Jarratt, said, “We are pleased to be joining Savant Group Ltd.’s other Series B investors to achieve financial close for SunCulture’s latest fundraise. Alongside our investment, InfraCo Africa’s involvement will support the company to further develop its HSES and governance frameworks as the company grows and seeks to enter new markets. SunCulture’s unique approach to leveraging consumer financing and carbon credits to reduce the upfront cost of its systems for farmers also aligns well with the PIDG strategy. With access to irrigation, farmers can increase their yields, ensuring greater food security for themselves and their families in the face of the impacts of climate change, and increased agricultural incomes can support wider sustainable economic growth and prosperity in rural areas. ”

The ‘total cost of ownership’ for a SunCulture pump is 40-60% lower than the cost of a fuel-based pump, depending on payment plans.i SunCulture offers its pumps to smallholder farmers through a Pay-As-You-Grow model. In a further effort to improve the affordability of its pumps for smallholder farmers, SunCulture is the first African solar water pump provider to have registered for a carbon credit programme, having its emissions reductions independently verified by VERRA, thereby reducing the upfront cost of its pumps for smallholder farmers.