Taking farming Off-Grid
Karmsolar – an Egyptian Start Up – has benefited from the emergence of a new trend for farmers to leave the banks of the Nile in search for water elsewhere. With higher unpredictability of the River Nile water flow due to Climate Change, the challenges of finding power and energy in the middle of the desert are becoming a fact that companies and farmers have to deal with, before their industry gets hit by nature rather than anyone else. (9)
Farming in the age of Climate Change
In the heart of San Juaqin Valley, in California, farmers buy land to collect water in wet years, in hope of getting through the times of drought that are becoming more unpredictable, and more drastic than ever before. Yet, this is just a band-aid for farming, which will suffer greatly in cases of long droughts that span over 3 years in time. (10)
The fear is not just about the lack of crops, or the loss of almost 95,000 jobs in California only, but it’s the question of whether this is reversible, or is it too late? (8)
Halfway across the world, 400 million people depend on the predictability of the River Nile, the lifeblood of many countries of Africa – and the only source of water for food supply, productive environment for the human population and for animals and plants. Particularly in Egypt, a country with 100 Million in population (1), the country’s population occupy only 5% of the land, all of it along the Nile River. Throughout history, Egypt’s population has lived along the banks of the Nile, benefiting from the generous source of water that allows them to farm, drink, and maintain a stable source of water.
Unpredictability in the Nile River
By supplying 95% of Egypt’s water needs, unpredictability in the flow of the River Nile has great implications on Egypt, in particular on farmers, who have for a very long time chosen the Nile banks as an attractive location for many reasons. (4)
El Nino Cycle, a phenomenon that controls rainfall variation in the Ethiopian highlands and basins, will increase in intensity and duration as the average temperature across earth continuous to rise. As a result, there will be as much as 50% increase in variation of the amount of water flow in the Nile from year to year, a rate that is too high – too risky – for sustainable development of agriculture, and reliable production of plants for the country’s growing population. (3)
Today, Climate Change is suggesting that there might be more value elsewhere – where being subject to this set of risks is minimized, and more stability is attained.
A new supply chain for farming
Karmsolar, a solar power energy company, has partnered with farmers in their quest to solve this issue, and created a solution which could be the lifeblood for the new age of farming in Egypt. The company creates water irrigation systems, that are solar powered, allowing farmers to have sustainable sources of water from aquifers.
Moreover, the company stores and sells energy to farmers in the dessert where there is no connection to the national power grid. And finally, a subsidiary – Karmbuild – provides construction projects that are energy efficient, and that reduce the need for temperature control throughout the year. (9)
With no dependence on fossil fuel, grid electricity, or multiple construction companies, farmers are now offered a new chain of supply for all their needs wherever the sun rises. Karmsolar aims to change the supply of agriculture’s main inputs, by consolidating it into one company, with one mission – Off-Grid Sustainable Agriculture. (12)
The future for Karmsolar:
With unfavorable government regulations for solar energy in Egypt, a country heavily dependent on fossil fuels, this was a perfect opportunity for minimizing the cost of water for dessert farming, by eliminating fuel cost, fuels transportation cost, power generation equipment cost, and replacing this with a solar dependent facility in a location that has abundance of sun. (10)
However, the scale of this is still under test. With the harsh conditions of the dessert, and the limited support from the government, small farmers are still unable to take on big investments to start such project. Will this receive a boost from a government in dire need to grow its food supply?
Also, will Karmsolar be able to deliver on the needs of more advanced technologies for Agriculture? Or will the grid eventually enter remote areas, and compete with one of its major value propositions?
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- “Egypt Population 2017.” Egypt Population 2017 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs), worldpopulationreview.com/countries/egypt-population/.
- “How Climate Change Might Affect the Nile.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 3 Aug. 2017, www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21725802-egypt-ethiopia-and-sudan-will-have-learn-share-water-or-their-people-will.
- “Climate Change Could Lead to Overall Increase in River Flow, but More Droughts and Floods, Study Shows.” org – News and Articles on Science and Technology, phys.org/news/2017-04-climate-river-droughts.html.
- David L. Chandler | MIT News Office. “Nile Faces Greater Variability.” MIT News, 24 Apr. 2017, news.mit.edu/2017/nile-climate-change-droughts-floods-0424.
- ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141236.htm.
- “Climate Change Will Alter Flow of River Nile.” Climate News Network, 1 May 2017, www.climatenewsnetwork.net/climate-change-alter-flow-river-nile/.
- Walker, Leon. “Middle East Turns to Solar Power.” Energy Manager Today, 5 Sept. 2013, www.energymanagertoday.com/forbes-middle-east-turns-to-solar-power-095068/.
- Groom, Additional Nichola, et al. “Water Scarcity Clouds California Farming’s Future.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 13 Mar. 2009, www.reuters.com/article/us-water-agriculture/water-scarcity-clouds-california-farmings-future-idUSTRE52C07R20090313.
- MacBride, Elizabeth. “On Cue With Elon Musk, A Solar Power Company Blooms In The Egyptian Desert.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Jan. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethmacbride/2017/01/27/taking-cue-from-elon-musk-a-solar-power-company-blooms-in-the-egyptian-desert/2/#a58e0894910d.
- Pimentel, David, et al. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues | BioScience | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Oct. 2004, academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/54/10/909/230205.
- “Water Scarcity.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity.
- “KarmSolar Is a Pioneering Innovation-Driven Global Company Dedicated to Providing Solar Solutions for Today’s Businesses and Industries.” KarmSolar, karmsolar.com/.