358 agricultural producers from 16 districts learned how they can use energy efficiency technologies and solutions in agriculture

April 8, 2024

358 agricultural producers learned about affordable and sustainable energy efficiency technologies and solutions, how they work and how their adoption could improve agricultural businesses. With the support of UNDP and the Government of Japan, 10 information sessions were organized, which covered 16 target districts - Telenești, Ungheni, Șoldănești, Hîncești, Sîngerei, Briceni, Orhei, Străseni, Criuleni, Dubăsari, Florești, Rezina, Cantemir, Căușeni, Cahul, Taraclia.

"I noticed a major interest. There were a lot of questions. The need to know information about this field, but also the need to use energy-efficient technologies is very high," says Sergiu Robu, expert in energy efficiency.

Participants learned how to adopt renewable energy sources and what challenges to expect; how the principles of sustainable development can be applied to ensure a sustainable energy future; which technologies can improve energy efficiency in the agricultural sector; what are the advantages and how microenergy can be used as a flexible solution in the specific context of agriculture, but also how to calculate the return on their own in the use of energy efficiency technologies.

"Renewable sources are expensive in general, although they are becoming more accessible every year, but small businesses, small agricultural producers cannot afford such investments on their own. If they are supported by development partners, the payback period of an installation decreases from 14 to 3 years. This is very motivating for farmers," explains expert Sergiu Robu.

"This information session is very useful for us and it came just in time, as we intend to install solar panels, but we were not very informed. We found out, for example, what are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of solar panels. Until now, this information was completely unknown to me, I could not have made a correct decision. I also understood what types of inverters there are and what are the differences between them," says Viorica Guțu from Sîngerei, who grows cereals with her husband.

They intend to develop the direction of processing, to produce feed for rabbits and other animals. They have agricultural machinery, a production warehouse, but the room is not heated, it has no working conditions, plus the machinery for processing will consume energy, that is why they are interested in energy efficient solutions.

Casapciuc Veaceslav from Zarojeni village, Florești district, has been farming for more than 20 years. He grows wheat, corn and sunflowers on 80 hectares of land, which is not much, he says. "It's interesting and I like the land, if you don't like it, you can't be a farmer," Veaceslav is convinced, although he admits that it's not easy to be a farmer, especially when the earnings barely cover the loan installments and there is nothing left for investment, as has happened in the last two years. Together with his wife, they also grow vegetables in the greenhouse and have been planning to install photovoltaic panels for several years, but they have not been able to raise the necessary money. He came to the training session hoping to find out "how best to do it", that he doesn't know the technical aspects either, but he knows that something has to be done because "if many of us are going to use energy efficiency measures, we will reduce energy costs, which will increase farmers' income, increase the efficiency of our businesses, improve the environment, quality of life and build a better future for our children here at home!"

Victoria Cazacu manages two family businesses in Prajila commune, Florești district. Two years ago, she returned for good from abroad, including to help her family develop their business and she says they planned to bring other relatives back home as they need workers. They mostly grow vegetables and greens and have 20 permanent and up to 60 seasonal employees. They recently purchased an industrial refrigerator and a dryer, but they understood that "the cost of electricity is a problem, and the installation of solar panels would be a solution, although their cost is still quite high, but I hope we can solve these problems," says Victoria.

"This topic is very interesting, because it is very current. I plan to install solar panels to reduce costs. I have several development ideas," says Victor Cuțuc from the village of Copăceni, Sîngerei. Victor owns a cow farm.

"I intend to make a milk processing section, heat the production space, and have access to water. Now I give the milk to the collection point, but I don't always succeed, we have a very bad road. And then I make cottage cheese that I sell in the district. But I have high consumption with refrigerators. I also have two greenhouses where I grow vegetables and I could make them functional during the winter as well. I was also thinking of producing biogas, I could collect the raw material from the village and neighboring villages," says Victor about his plans.

Through this initiative and the integration of energy-efficient technologies, UNDP aims to significantly reduce the negative impact of agricultural activities on the environment, strengthen the resilience of rural businesses against the volatile challenges generated by climate change, energy shortages and market fluctuations, but also promote an ecosystem of innovation and sustainability in agriculture, where participants in these information sessions become promoters of change and role models in their communities.

Women who practice agricultural economic activities in the 16 districts where the information sessions were organized can obtain assistance for the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions by participating in a project competition open until 15 April 2024.

In total, 75 projects to increase energy resilience, worth from US$5,000 to 18,000 dollars, will be supported by UNDP Moldova with the financial support of Switzerland and Japan.