78 agricultural producers increase the energy efficiency of their businesses with the support of Switzerland, Japan and UNDP

June 20, 2024

78 women practicing agricultural economic activities in 16 districts are being helped by UNDP to adopt energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions in their businesses and households, with the financial support of Switzerland and Japan. The support, totaling approximately US$650,000, provided in the form of equipment and services, complements the effort to strengthen women's capacities in the field of sustainable agricultural practices and integrated energy efficiency.

"In Moldova, women are the backbone of rural economies, playing a key role in sustaining agricultural productivity, economic stability and community cohesion. Their interest in embracing clean energy technologies not only benefits their households but also inspires broader community towards strengthening their resilience. Through this initiative, in partnership with Switzerland and Japan, we honour these women as leaders who have overcome numerous obstacles to maintain and grow their businesses and engage in income-generation economic activities despite the multifaceted challenges faced in recent years," mentions Andrea Cuzyova, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in the Republic of Moldova.

The support provided consists in the installation of photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar collectors, the adoption of various energy efficiency measures in warehouses and rooms used in the production process, the procurement of energy efficient equipment, but also in the development of other actions that contribute to increasing the energy autonomy of micro, small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises run by women.

"Even though women have always been involved in agricultural activities, they were not always given the support and autonomy to turn it into a business. Times have changed and now more than ever, we need to support women agri-producers and ensure that they play a key role in agriculture and global food security. The Japanese government is proud to support and encourage women entrepreneurs in Japan and all over the world. I would like to express my particular respect to Moldova’s farmers for the resilience and quality of your products, but also for your achievements in the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions," declares Yoichiro Yamada, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Moldova.

From resources provided by the Government of Japan, 32 women are being helped to increase the energy resilience of their businesses: 22 women-led household farmers will receive up to $5,000 worth of energy-efficient technologies and equipment, and 10 small and medium-sized women farmers - worth $10,000 each.

Aurelia Balan from the village of Cojușna, Străseni district owns, together with her husband, four greenhouses where they grow seedlings, vegetables, greens, and flowers. The greenhouses operate practically continuously and require about 25 tons of coal per year to maintain a constant temperature in them, which costs about $14,000, an amount roughly equal to what is paid annually for the required electricity. With the $5,000 from the Government of Japan, Aurelia will install a photovoltaic system and air pumps to heat the greenhouses, thus replacing the coal-based heating system, which is not only expensive but also polluting.

"Working with greenhouses is a constant hassle. The need pushed us to start this activity, but it is very difficult, it requires very large investments and we hardly try to go ashore. Everything we got in life was from our work, done honestly and I didn't think anyone could help us without any interest. When we heard about this opportunity, we decided to give it a try and told other women about the contest. We are very happy to have been selected," says Aurelia.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation finances 46 out of a total of 78 project proposals. 30 of these, worth up to US$6,000, were submitted by women farmers at the household level and 16 proposals, worth up to US$18,000 each, by women-led smallholder farmers and middle ones.

"I am delighted that our event today focuses on women, a vital aspect often overlooked in terms of potential in a society where over 50% of the population are women. This joint Swiss Cooperation Office and UNDP initiative integrates solutions across various agricultural activities, such as vegetable and berry cultivation, animal husbandry, orchards, and more. This support aims for long-term socio-economic recovery, energy security, and energy transition for women-led businesses in rural areas. Today, we celebrate 46 courageous, dynamic, hard-working, committed, and creative women making strides in this field," emphasizes Olivier Bürki, Deputy Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in the Republic of Moldova.

Nadejda Sonic and her husband have recently become life and business partners. A former pharmacist, Nadejda aspires to build a modern farm in her native village, Cioara in Hîncești district. For now, they have 300 purebred sheep, they have the necessary experience and desire. The $18,000 support from Switzerland will enable them to procure and install photovoltaic panels on the new farm, which will provide them with the energy they need for the cheese processing and production line and for the machines that make the animal feed. They have many, big plans and are grateful to be supported to achieve them.

"Without such help it is very complicated, especially at the beginning of the path. We are not afraid of work, we both grew up knowing what physical work means, and such a business involves a lot of work, including physical work, we practically sleep four hours a night. But we know what we want to achieve - to develop, to grow, to have something of our own, and we are very happy that we can be helped," says Nadejda.

The beneficiaries were selected by UNDP through open competition. They practice agricultural economic activities at the household level, manage peasant households, individual enterprises, LTDs and business associations from the districts of Telenești, Ungheni, Șoldănești, Hîncești, Sîngerei, Briceni, Orhei, Strășeni, Criuleni, Dubăsari, Florești, Rezina, Cantemir, Căușeni, Cahul, Taraclia. The mandatory own contribution represents a minimum of 20 percent of the amount requested in the project proposal.

During March - April 2024, 10 information sessions on energy efficiency measures, environment-friendly activities and their application in agriculture were organized for approximately 350 people from the 16 target districts, including the current beneficiaries.