32 agricultural businesses led by women will become more energy-efficient with support from Austria and UNDP

December 13, 2023

32 women farmers and producers from Hîncești, Ungheni, Sîngerei, Telenești, Șoldănești and Briceni districts receive financial support to install renewable energy solutions and improve the energy resilience of their enterprises in rural areas. 

The Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation, provides a total of US$300,000 for the installation of photovoltaic panels, solar collectors, and biomass boilers to generate clean and reliable electricity, heat water, and increase the overall energy efficiency of the businesses. The funds are offered through UNDP, via its "Emergency support for agri-producers in the context of socio-economic, climate and energy crisis" project.

The 32 women benefitting from support were selected by UNDP via an open competition.  More than half of them cultivate and process agricultural crops in open fields and greenhouses, while the rest specializes in beekeeping, poultry, and animal husbandry. 

Elena Pavlov from Zăicanii Vechi village in Telenești district is one of them. She owns a farm of 50 dairy cows and plans to install a photovoltaic system with 8kW capacity and a refrigerated tank for storing milk. The financial support will reduce her production costs and will help her to further develop her business. 

“We have been raising cows and selling milk to processors for over ten years. After we will install the photovoltaic panels, we hope to save energy and invest the money saved in a dairy production line. We plan to make cheese and yogurt for children. We have worked hard on our own for years, but now is the first time that someone supports us. We are very grateful for this help,” says Elena.

Olga Iablonschi from Grigorăuca village in Sîngerei district, another beneficiary of the project, grows tomatoes, pumpkins, bell peppers, chili peppers, leeks, melons, and greens both her large family of 11 children and for sale. She cultivates the vegetables both in a greenhouse and in the open field. A new photovoltaic system with a capacity of 7.4 kW — to be installed soon thanks to Austrian support — will safeguard the energy necessary for the greenhouse’s heating and irrigation systems. 

Looking ahead, Olga wants to grow her business and expand number of greenhouses: “This grant is a great help to our family business. I never dared imagine that I would receive it. In the next season, I hope we will save money thanks to the electricity we now don’t have to buy anymore as we generate it ourselves. I want to use this extra money for my children's needs.” 

“Supporting women entrepreneurs is an essential component of everything we stand and work for. Not only does this initiative help women to use climate-smart and cost-efficient energy solutions for their production processes, but it also supports them to expand their businesses, have bigger yields, and ultimately gain better access to markets,” emphasizes Gunther Zimmer, the Head of the Austrian Development Agency’s office in Chișinău.

"The support from Austria-UNDP plays a crucial role in empowering women-led enterprises in rural areas that are willing to adopt renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies. It not only facilitates their long-term green development but also aligns them with sustainable, clean, and environmentally friendly practices and goals in the agricultural sector. For instance, if we analyse the impact of the proposed solutions in the 32 projects, with a total capacity of 518 kW and an average coverage rate of 50% of current energy consumption needs, the savings from the green energy generated could be valued at a minimum of 780,000 Moldovan lei annually, contributing to a reduction in estimated carbon emissions by 152 tons per year," says Valeria Ieșeanu, Planning and Partnership Development Specialist, UNDP Moldova. 

The joint initiative of ADA and UNDP contributes to empowering women agri-producers in rural areas to implement renewable energy systems and energy-efficient technologies. The financial support is complemented by a training programme which aims to help women gain knowledge in sustainable agricultural practices, energy efficiency and access to market, and ultimately is expected to increase their income. 

Until September 2024, thanks to Swiss funding, another 45 women agri-producers from several districts of the country will receive funding for energy efficiency installations. 

The "Emergency support for agri-producers in the context of socio-economic, climate and energy crisis" project is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project started in 2022 and is funded by Austria and Switzerland through the Moldova 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Partnerships Trust Fund.