In recent years, Pakistan has grappled with the dual challenge of the escalating climate change crisis and the undying consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Climate change has brought about an increase in devastating natural disasters, disrupted agricultural patterns, and threatened water resources. Simultaneously, the pandemic has strained healthcare systems, hampered economic growth, and disrupted education. To build the resilience of the agricultural production system to future shocks and stresses, it is now imperative to invest in resilient food systems that protect smallholder farmers and workers.
Fairtrade NAPP has been investing in numerous Emergency relief and resilience funds to mitigate food and energy price crises. Co-funded by Fairtrade Germany, Fairtrade NAPP has organized an initiative of distributing solar units among the families of farmers belonging to 4 Small Producing Organizations (SPOs) as part of an emergency relief and resilience fund to mitigate food and energy price crises. This initiative aimed to tackle rising energy costs and frequent blackouts amidst the country’s energy crisis, increasing producers’ resilience and contributing to the initiative by Procurement of Solar Energy Units. The process of selecting beneficiaries for assistance was carried out meticulously with specific criteria in mind.
The distribution of Solar Energy Units was a vital step in ensuring sustainable energy access for the selected beneficiaries. Each set included 9 essential items, comprising a 200-watt solar panel, charger controller, terminals, thimbles, 110/76mm cables with solar connectors, a panel stand, a 65amp wet battery, a DC pedestal fan, and two DC LED lights. In total, 72 sets of Solar Energy Units were distributed among 4 Small Producer Organizations (SPOs). The distribution process was organized through 4 separate ceremonies, each held at the respective locations of the producer organizations.
- Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) Farmers Association:
18 farmers consisting of 10 male farmers and 8 female farmers from the Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) Farmers’ Association received Solar Energy Units. Mr. Mujahid Saleem, the President of REEDS, emphasized the significance of Solar Energy Units while Mr. Ghulam Ahmad provided insights into the installation and practical use of these units while training the farmers.
- Hope Farmers Association:
18 farmers consisting of 16 males and 2 females received 18 Solar Energy Units. Sarah Anum, Program Consultant from NAPP Fairtrade Pakistan, also participated in the distribution event.
- Masoom Support Foundation:
Farmers belonging to Massom Support Foundation received substantial assistance by receiving 18 Solar Energy Units.
- Atlas Fairtrade Farm Association:
A total of 18 farmers of Atlas Fairtrade Farmer Association, including 11 females and 6 males, received complete solar energy units including complete solar panels.
Each unit was handed over physically, strengthening the bond between the producers and Fairtrade. The profound impact of these units resonated deeply with the farmers who saw them as beacons of hope, capable of illuminating their lives and creating opportunities for their children to study comfortably at night. Families without electricity and windows have received invaluable support through these solar units. These units function acts as backups for the blackouts that occur frequently and help reduce energy costs at the household level. In addition to transitioning to green energy, this allows families to spend their funds on other essential goods including food. From a broader perspective, this initiative aids in achieving two objectives:
- To develop the conditions for strengthening local food systems including production and processing for the small-scale farmers.
- To strengthen the capacities of actors in local food systems in the Agricultural food sector.
The distribution of Solar Energy Units to the beneficiaries stands as a powerful representation of the unwavering support extended by Fairtrade as it resonated deeply with our farmers. Beyond the immediate improvements in their daily lives, this initiative is a testament to our commitment to transitioning into renewable energy at the grassroots level. It empowers farmers and communities with a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy source that demonstrates a positive change through collective action towards a brighter and more promising future.
“The solar panel for the fan and light is a blessing for my family. We live in an area where power outages are frequent. Now, we have a sustainable solution for our basic needs. The fan will provide comfort during the hot summer days, and the light will enhance our safety and productivity after sunset. It’s a significant step towards a better quality of life.” Shahzad Ali, Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) Farmers’ Association.
“My whole day is spent doing farm work to meet my daily needs and I’m at that stage of life where I need some peaceful time for my prayers. However, I couldn’t read the Holy Book after sunset due to my poor eyesight. I am thankful that I received the solar energy units as it will enable me to balance my religious work.” – Mushtaq Ahmad, Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) Farmers’ Association.
“Our children can now study comfortably under the light and can extend the study duration which they were unable to do due to load shedding. It’s comforting to know they can sleep better at night with the fan. The solar units are not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly. We’re committed to using it wisely and conserving energy for a sustainable future.” -Rafia Rukhsana Bibi, Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) Farmers’ Association.
“We want to thank you for the distribution of the Solar Energy System to the Farmers of Our organization, Hope Farmers Association. We have received very good feedback regarding the performance of Solar Energy Units. The farmers and their families are very happy about the initiative from Fairtrade Germany.” – Muhammad Yaqoob, Hope Farmers Association.