Equipped with a starter kit for their own vegetable gardens (watering can, soil, bucket, vegetable plants), our first trainees left our training 4 weeks ago with a certificate proofing they had successfully attended the training in vegetable growing and healthy nutrition.
This week we visited them at home to see whether what they had learned could also be implemented at home – and we are thrilled! All of them have created a small vegetable garden, built a fence, the plants are strong and, thanks to good care, grow into healthy vegetables.
Our project shows that with the help to help themselves, and with our trainings, we have given people in the townships of South Africa hope that everyone can contribute something to improve their own living conditions. Parents can be a role model for their children, children learn that it pays to be proactive and how important a healthy diet is.
Pictures often say more than words:
The trainings are part of the SUNfarming Vitality Porridge Project in South Africa. The SUNfarming CoVID-19 Response project is funded by develoPPP funds from the German Ministry for Economic cooperation and Development through KfW / DEG. The project is supported by June & Andrew Mlangeni Foundation and F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.), which support SUNfarming in the implementation.
SUNfarming Vitality Porridge Project in South Africa is a PPP project and is funded by KfW/DEG. The project is supported in the organization by develoPPP, June & Andrew Mlangeni Foundation, german cooperation, F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.).
Multiple award-winning SUNfarming Training Centers
More than 1,000 training courses have been held since 2013 at the SF Solar Training Center and SF Food & Energy Training Center for participants from all over Africa. With the help of KfW/DEG, SUNfarming / Alensys successfully implemented the Solar Training Center at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, as part of a PPP Public Private Partnership Program in 2013. In 2015 the solar training center was expanded by 15 agro-solar greenhouses to become the SF Food & Energy Training Center. The training centers, which are constantly being expanded even after the funding period has expired, are in full-time operation and, in addition to solar power for the Campus, also supply fresh vegetables to the North-West University Campus, a grocery store in Potchefstroom (Pick & Pay) and several catering facilities.
Fresh vegetables are important for a healthy diet, but people often lack the opportunities to grow them, the money to buy them or the firewood to prepare them. Together with our technical business partners in South Africa, we have developed a vitality-strengthening grain-based dry food (Vitality Porridge). Vitality Porridge not only increases performance, but also contains medicinal herbs from our own cultivation that are known for their positive effects on health. The Vitality Porridge Project offers immediate help against hunger and malnutrition. The project also provides sustainable help through the certified training courses in vegetable growing and healthy eating. These courses are presented to the local population – specifically to people who are without work. Labor is required for food production including in the Food & Energy centers. Accredited Agri-SETA trainers in organic vegetable cultivation provided by SUNfarming South Africa take on the training of these workers. In this way, we are creating new jobs. Our trainees are much better equipped to find work in the agricultural sector after they have completed our training courses.
The courses offered in vegetable growing and healthy eating are controlled by the South African authority SAQA (South African Qualification Authority). The certificates awarded at the end represent a nationally recognized qualification which facilitates entry into the labor market.
The first training took place on September 14th in the local parish. The parishes support the project comprehensively by scouting participants and by providing parish gardens for the practical training. As a result, the church garden should continue to be cultivated by community members and serve as a source of food for the poorest.
So far, over 20 schools with over 10,000 students and a minimum of 60,000 family members have taken part in the project. Up to 300 people who have become unemployed will be trained in the training program. The project offers the 60 best candidates (possible future entrepreneurs) further training on the agricultural property provided by SUNfarming in Potchefstroom. As a licensed SUNfarming franchiser, the majority of them should help to supply supermarkets with organic vegetables and herbs.
Theoretical and practical training includes everything that is necessary for a successful harvest, from soil preparation to sowing, irrigation and pest control. The gardens laid out by the first group are expanded and maintained by subsequent groups. In the course of the growing season, the following groups can learn pest control and pruning in practice. All trainees receive a file with the training material. On the last day of the course, each trainee receives the nationally recognized training certificate from the SAQA (South African Qualification Authority) for successful participation in a small handover ceremony.
As an immediate aid, Vitality Porridge will be distributed to school children as a daily vitamin and nutrient-rich supplement to school meals during the project period. In addition, the children receive a 5 kg bag to take home for their families. Since there are often not enough plates in schools, the Vitality Porridge can also be diluted and consumed more like a milkshake. The children love it all the more because they say it tastes like a vanilla shake.
The course participants can also take a 5kg bag of Vitality Porridge home with them. The joy is great, so is the need. Many ask whether further donations and training can be expected.The school programs supported by KfW/DEG are intended to tackle malnutrition, one of the biggest development problems in African countries, at the root. Through training courses directly in the production facilities and in cooperation with the parishes, jobs and sustainable future prospects are created for the people in Africa.
“The medicinal herbs for Vitality Porridge are already being grown, dried and bottled by trainees as multiple cultures (intercropping) together with various types of vegetables in our Food & Energy Training Centers. The extruders provided on the Food & Energy systems for the production of Vitality Porridge have been technically enlarged so that they can produce up to 200,000 food servings per day, ”explains Peter Schrum, SUNfarming founder and main shareholder.
“We would like to express our thanks to KfW/DEG without their support we would not have been able to implement the emergency food aid and training programs in the Vitality Porridge Project,” continues Peter Schrum.
Our PV open space systems offer many plants and animals urgently needed living space that has been lost due to intensively used agricultural areas. Our perennial wild herb meadows make an important contribution to promoting biodiversity.According to the Biodiversity Council, the extinction of pollinator insects threatens global food production with a value of 235 to 577 billion dollars per year. Out of 8 million insects, 1 million are threatened with extinction.
Extensive permanent green areas are created under the modules of our PV open-air systems, offering habitats for many animal and plant species that have already disappeared from intensively used agricultural areas. More insects mean more breeding birds. Here you can find food and e.g. Also sitting on the module rows and security fences. We do not fertilize or use any pesticides and there is also no machine tillage, factors that can negatively influence the fertility of the soil and the water balance. At the same time, the wild herb meadows promote humus formation, and the humus in turn binds carbon dioxide (CO2).
We work together with shepherds who like to use the fenced PV systems for their sheep. This summer there are 1200 sheep that keep the vegetation between the module rows short. The security fence offers protection from wolves. The module rows also offer weather protection in the rain or provide shade in summer.
„The medicinal herbs for the Vitality Porridge are grown, dried and bottled by our trainees, together with a wide variety of vegetables, in our Food & Energy Training Centers.
The extruders provided on the Food & Energy plants for the production of whole foods for our trainees have been technically enlarged so that they can produce up to 200,000 portions of porridge per day“, explains Peter Schrum, SUNfarming founder and main shareholder.
„Emergency aid through food donations is intended to help combat acute hunger. But in the long term we want to give people a sustainable future perspective through education and jobs in our Food & Energy training centre“, continous Peter Schrum.
Together with local partners in South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Burkina Faso and other African countries, high-quality school meals for children are to be provided. The porridge, prepared with water or milk, contains all the necessary nutrients and also the immune-boosting medicinal herbs Artemisia, ginger and turmeric. Together with emergency food aid, the Food & Energy plants create training positions in horticulture and for electrical assistants. Further training for physics and biology teachers in healthy nutrition and sustainable energy production are offered. The knowledge obtained can be passed on directly to school children, students and other interested parties.
With Food & Energy plants and Vitality Porridge Production, SUNfarming makes a sustainable contribution to combating the effects of the corona pandemic.
3.5 tons of corn flour were donated to Uganda.
The truckloads were handed over to the district government of the affected Covid19 region Adjumani on May 1st, 2020. The 30 MWp Food & Energy plant planned by SF will also be built here.
The corn flour was handed over by Prince Kimbugwe Edward, SUNfarming Managing Director Uganda, to the Kalungu district board to support poor communities.
Minister of Agriculture Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki and RDC Mr. Tukikiriza Kerebu, members of the Covid 19 District Task Force of the President of Uganda, are responsible for distributing the donations. They thanked SUNfarming GmbH and SF Uganda for the quick and unbureaucratic help.
The system is grid-connected and will shortly, in consultation with the local electricity provider Jirama, supply the city of Antsirabe with clean, renewable solar energy.
Gustav Radloff is the representative of the German photovoltaic company SUNfarming in South Africa and took part in the German Training Week (GTW) in 2019 of the project development program of the energy export initiative on project development in Botswana. In the interview, he reports on his experience and the added value of GTW for his company.
The German Training Weeks (GTWs) are multi-day training courses for energy experts in developing and emerging countries. The aim is to provide local energy experts from business and administration with the right tools for the successful development of high-quality renewable energy projects. German companies have the opportunity to participate as practical trainers.
What was your impression of the German Training Week in Botswana?
It was the first time that I participated in such an event. For me personally it was very helpful to get a good understanding of what the Botswana market looks like. Thanks to such a format, it is possible to get an idea of a country much faster and to see everything from the right perspective than if you tried it alone. This is where a group of crucial people, even from the Ministry of Energy, come together in one place and give important insights. If you come to the country alone, it is difficult to know who to meet, for example.
Was this your first time in Botswana?
No, I’ve been to Botswana several times because it borders South Africa and I work here. However, it is difficult to know what is really happening within a country in terms of specific regulations and their details, especially in the field of renewable energies. Some of the things we learned this week were a surprise for many participants.
What experience have you had with the Energy Export Initiative? Would you recommend participation to other companies?
It makes a lot of sense to take part in an event organized by the Energy Export Initiative because, among other things, a good way is to get to know many of the relevant actors in a particular country. Project development is interesting for us because we are project developers ourselves. We have found that it is very difficult in Africa to develop projects with good and strong local partners. We wanted to understand what is being done to support the development of project development skills in each country. I believe that this is a major obstacle to large-scale implementation and faster introduction of renewable energies. In our experience, the partners we could find have no understanding of the big picture that would be needed to develop a project. It is therefore good that the Energy Export Initiative offers a project development training program for these partners.
To what extent was participation in the GTW worthwhile for SUNfarming?
We were already talking to some people in Botswana and also some government people who were very interested. But now we understand much better what are the real goals or the steps we have to take if we want to achieve something. And we don’t need several months of our own working time to find out what I now know about the specific technical, economic and legal situation in Botswana.
Would you take part in a German Training Week again, for example in a different context or in a different country?
Even in countries where we have more networks and more knowledge, such an event is definitely worth attending again. People often make the mistake of thinking that if you do business in Africa, you do business in Africa. Few companies understand that each country is really unique. So if you do something in Botswana – even though it is only the neighboring country – it is completely different than doing something in Namibia, it is completely different than doing it in Zimbabwe … So I think that such an event is really helpful to provide additional perspectives to develop.
After several months of preparation, SUNfarming signed a PPA with the Togolese state on Thursday, January 16, 2020, for over 50 MWp Food & Energy plants. Installed on 2 x 50 hectares of land, the systems, in addition to supplying energy, are intended to help up to 50,000 people in the region receive training in the area of organic vegetable and egg production in the next 10 years. In addition, technicians are trained for the solar sector and the basics of electromobility are taught. Like in all other African countries, SUNfarming strives to actively involve GIZ and or KfW / DEG.
The SUNfarming Food & Energy facility will be the starting signal for a program to promote rural structural development in Togo. The partner in Togo is the CCIT (Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie du Togo, part of the Ministre du Commerce. It is responsible for the training and operation of the Food & Energy plants, under the guidance of SUNfarming. German storage and processing technologies in the field of vegetables and egg processing are as much part of the overall project as the production planning of e.g. tomato juice and ketchup to attract additional investors in these areas.
The SUNfarming Food & Energy concept can make a significant contribution to the success of the “Development Program in Rural Areas” planned by the Togolese government. In addition to a qualified workforce, this project also provides national and international investors with the energy they need to operate the processing plants that are to be built on site.
(Foto left to right:
Vice President CCIT Remie Moevi, President CCIT Germain Méba, Marc Bidamon, Energy Minister Togo, Peter Schrum, SUNfarming, Tiem Bolidja, Energy Ministry responsible for EE, Prinz Lorenzo Koageh Director SUNfarming Togo, Kossi Amétépé, CCIT 2. Vice President GLE.)
Before the laying of the foundation stone, Rt. Hon.Gen. (Rtd.) Moses Ali visited our Food & Energy Training Center at the North-West University in Potchefstroom in South Africa to see with his own eyes. The Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Energy of Uganda already visited us in November 2019 and reported to the Prime Minister. The delegation consisted of the family members of Hon Gen (Rt) Mosis Ali and Prince Kimbugwe.
After the Food & Energy visit we went to CFAM and introduced our partner in food processing.
The Prime Minister was very pleased about our technology and wants to have Food & Energy for Uganda.
An extract from our project proposal to the government of Uganda
The aim is that both the local partners and SUNfarming define the most suitable program for trainings. However, we would like to suggest the following program, as a start:
Module 1: Basic Knowledge Renewable Energy
Module 2: Design and installation of Photovoltaics systems
Module 3: Economic efficiency models for Photovoltaics systems
Module 4: Battery systems
Module 5: E-mobility
Module 6: Food & Energy – plants, greenhouse and free field systems
Module 7: Food & Energy- irrigation, fertilization, control, monitoring
Module 8: Operation, maintenance, monitoring systems.
SUNfarming will realize the first trainings under the Train-The-Trainer principle. Where the local trainers will be responsible to organize and continue with further trainings under the supervision of SUNfarming.
With Food & Energy, SUNfarming will establish a platform to develop several activities, where research is very important as the PV modules create a special environment under them that may not be suitable for some crops. Therefore, the main purpose of the research activities is to determine the most suitable crop for the local Food & Energy system and, in general, how to optimize agricultural production without compromising electricity production. Students that are carrying out their thesis or research groups can use the Food & Energy systems for experimentation and local professors would lead the research activities.
As in previous years, SUNfarming donates to Christmas for a non-profit organization. Through our Food & Energy project in Madagascar, we were made aware of the children’s aid project “Clair de Lune” by our local partners. 70 orphans or children from penniless families from 1 to 6 years of age are looked after by 3 employees every day and receive one hot meal a day – sometimes the only meal. SUNfarming will support this project in 2020 with a regular, monthly donation. For this year’s Christmas on December 18, the SUNfarmer and their families spontaneously collected and with the amount transferred, Christmas became a festival of joy for these children too.
In this spirit, we wish you and your families a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. Health, happiness and much success for the New Year – combined with our heartfelt thanks for your trust!
With festive greetings
Your SUNfarming Team