In temperate climates, hens increase their rate of egg-laying in summer and decrease in winter. Increased egg-laying is triggered by longer day-light hours and NOT by temperature, with a 30% increase in egg production occurring when tropical 12 hour days are extended by 4 hours using artificial lights. Studies in South Africa have shown that a 30% increase in egg production increases the profitability of small-holder poultry keeping by 50%.
Irrigation increases the yield and number of cropping cycles per annum. For example, 3-4 crops of tomatoes can be grown with drip feed irrigation and timed so as to avoid the “glut” just after rainy season. Solar powered drip-feed irrigation is commercially for market-garden “plots” from ¼ to 4 acres or more, provided a source of surface or shallow well water is situated close to the fields. Drip feed irrigation conserves water use, and reduces both fertilizer usage and run-off, protecting the local environment and reducing costs and waste.
In many cases, over 50% of crops grown are lost through wastage, often resulting from the high temperatures prevalent in Africa. Full refrigeration is expensive, but even reducing the storage temperature by 10 degrees can significantly enhance the freshness and longevity of fruit and vegetables, reducing waste. Solar power refrigeration equipment is ideally placed to support small local food chains.
Small solar power milk chillers can extend the range over which milk can be economically collected and brought into large commercial chillers, bottling plants and processing units, dramatically increasing the number of small-holders who can gain access to commercial milk supply chains.
Access to power improves the efficiency, yield and productivity of smallholders allowing them to better manage crop production around market prices. The creation of excess production for sale rather than home-use enables them to divert cash into better tools, education and health.