Bloomberg: U.S. Startup Plans Africa Expansion With Solar Watering Kits

Only about 5 percent of African agriculture is irrigated, according to the International Water Management Institute. In Tanzania, for example, the government says it has a 6.8 trillion-shilling ($3.1 billion) irrigation funding gap.

A U.S. startup that sells solar-powered irrigation kits to small-scale farmers in Kenya plans to expand in East Africa, where regular droughts often result in food shortages.

SunCulture, which started business in New York four years ago, has sold almost 1,000 units of the equipment that costs as much as 248,000 shillings ($2,400) in deals that also solve key challenges for growers in Kenya: access to finance and a steady off-take market. It plans to take operations into Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Burundi in coming years, Marketing Director Kathryn Weichel said in an interview in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

“The first thing we did when we started SunCulture was to spend the first seven months with farmers piloting in the field because we needed to test the product and make sure it worked for farmers in Kenya,” Weichel said. “We try to provide them not only the irrigation system, but seeds, fertilizer, agronomy services, after sales services and financing.”

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