A total of $2 million in grants will be provided to companies and organizations demonstrating scalable innovations impacting the water-energy-food nexus
NEW DELHI - Oorja Development Solutions India Private Limited (Oorja) is among the 15 winners of the first cohort of Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) Grand Challenge in the South and Southeast Asia region.
Oorja has been awarded a grant of US$180,000 towards installation, testing, and commissioning of 18 Agri-Energy Clusters benefiting over 30,000 farmers and their families in energy-starved regions of northern India. It will also receive technical assistance to scale its innovations and expand their reach among women farmers.
Financial support from the WE4F Grand Challenge has been conferred to scale up Oorja’s integrated low-carbon Agri-Energy services. This scalable innovation impacts the nexus of the water, energy and food sectors with a focus on the needs of poor farmers and women. Oorja has launched three farming services that are available on-farm or at the market gate. These are underpinned by solar technology and pay-per-use business models, which enable farmers to pay only according to their consumption without any upfront cost for technology acquisition.
The award will enable Oorja to expand its pay-per-use irrigation service “Oonnati”, milling service “Oojjwal” and cooling service “Oonnayan”, and to implement a gender mainstreaming plan to bring more BoP women farmers into the fold of its energy services. In total, 72 solar pumps of 5 HP capacity, 18 solar mills of 3 HP capacity, and 9 solar cold storages of 5 MT capacity will be deployed within at least 4 districts and 2 states reaching cumulatively 5,490 farmers as direct users and of which 1,098 will be women farmers. Oorja will increase its execution capacity to make a bigger impact in mitigating emissions across the agricultural value chain and reach out to more women farmers.
“The financial and advisory partnership with WE4F will bolster Oorja’s revenue generation potential and scale its impact. The water-energy-food nexus is key for gender inclusion, strengthening resilience and food security. The current Covid-19 crisis has deepened the disparity in access to solutions by BoP communities. We look forward to working together with the WE4F South and Southeast Asia Regional Hub to help scale our disruptive innovation for the benefit of the most underserved farmers”, said Dr Clementine Chambon, CTO of Oorja.
“We are delighted to have Oorja as one of our first cohort innovators. The company’s solution demonstrates scalability to impact the water-energy-food nexus, reduce poverty and promote environmental sustainability. We believe that the grant and technical support provided will strengthen Oorja’s business and bring positive change to help improve lives of women and marginalized farmers in India”, said Radtasiri Wachirapunyanont, Regional Innovation Hub Manager of the WE4F South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub.
Oorja is a farming-as-a-service (FaaS) company that finances, installs, operates, and maintains decentralised solar energy systems for agricultural use. It works at the intersection of sustainable energy and livelihoods in the agricultural value chain and sells affordable and reliable irrigation, milling and cooling services to farmers on a pay-per-use basis. The services have enabled small and marginal farmers and low-income farmers to reduce their input costs, boost their crop yields by up to 30%, diversify and expand their cropping systems, and sustainably increase their income from farming. Oorja’s current project portfolio comprises of 24 solar assets of 90 kWp solar PV capacity deployed in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India. Oorja’s innovations are backed by social impact investors including DOEN Foundation, Cisco CSR and Echoing Green and also supported by the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. For more information about Oorja, visit https://www.oorjasolutions.org/ or find us on social media @oorjasolutions.
About the WE4F
The WE4F is an international partnership amongst the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Union, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The WE4F aims to increase food production, impact gender and poverty, and promote biodiversity, climate, and environmental resilience by sustainably scaling solutions to meet the challenges in the water-energy-food nexus. The Call for Innovations is an activity under Water and Energy for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (WE4F). The WE4F (S/SEA RIH) Grand Challenge will help innovators in 16 countries to enhance their ability to scale commercially and overcome challenges in the water-energy-food nexus through customised support from grants, technical assistance, and investment facilitation. To learn more, visit: https://we4f.org/south-and-southeast-asia and follow @WE4FGCD on Twitter.