Agriculture in Grenada meets renewable energy champion

The agriculture sector is in dire need of an energy revolution. Farmer Yacouba in Grenada is trying various techniques to reduce emissions and energy use. Photo not related to the story. Photo: JanetandPhil

Meet Yacouba Toussain. He is 29 years old, a full-time farmer and electrician from Grenada, who is constantly trying to think of ways to make his farming activities more sustainable.

My primary business is agriculture. I run a farm in my village that specialises in the growth of Scotch Bonnet hot peppers. My farm is set up to run on a sustainable renewable energy system.

The irrigation system is all electronic, powered by solar panels and wind turbine generators which generate power to an electrical pump which sends water to a storage tank. The water is then distributed to the crops via drip irrigation lines.   

The energy conservation measures which I applied to my irrigation system can be applied to various other systems which require electric power, for domestic and commercial usage.  

This form of innovation was founded from one main experience in my childhood. As a child, I spent a lot of time watching a television show entitled “Captain Planet” in which the protagonist, Captain Planet, fought incessantly to save the environment.

This inspired me to want to play my part to preserve our natural environment. Coupled with this, my love for electronics fuelled me to construct electronic devices, one of which was a miniature wind turbine used to generate electricity.  

In the photo above: Yellow Scotch Bonnet peppers by B. Fujimoto
In the photo below: The mini-wind turbin on Yacouba's farm. Photo by Yacouba Toussain. 

Why go sustainable?

The economic situation facing the world and the energy and food insecurities due to climate change, pushed me to find an environmentally friendly way to involve myself in agriculture. 

Consequently I built an eco-friendly renewable energy system that was able to sustain my farming venture. This benign system produces minimal greenhouse gas emission, thus providing a clean, renewable source of energy for agricultural uses.

This novelty is a combination of wind and solar energy systems to produce energy, primarily for agriculture uses. The energy created by wind turbines and solar panels are both direct current (DC), which is passed through an inverter that simply converts this DC into the alternating current (AC). 

In short, it pairs solar and wind energy to create a hybrid off-grid system which has no ties with the power company. 

The energy is stored in a battery bank as DC power and converted to AC power as needed, or the DC created by the solar panels and wind turbine can be used directly by appliances that work on DC current. These systems will be used primarily for sustaining agricultural systems, like electronic irrigation.   

This benefits the environment by using natural resources produced by the sun and the wind that are renewable and sustainable, reducing dependence on the use of fossil fuel systems thus decreasing the GHG emissions and conserving the environment, contributing positively to climate change in Grenada and around the world.  

Energy + agriculture = a costly love story

The foremost concern facing the agricultural sector, even in Grenada, is the high cost of energy. 

Furthermore, this type of energy releases excessive amounts of GHG emissions which contribute greatly to climate change. As a result, at the current rate of emission, plant and human life would be unsustainable in the next century.   

This project will curb this problem by creating a cheaper, alternative source of energy, which can sustain agricultural ventures without the large carbon footprint. The application of this innovation in the agriculture sector will ultimately reduce the cost of production and encourage the growth of agriculture locally and around the world. The use of renewable energy will generate increased production, which will create a higher demand for labour, fostering employment opportunities in my community for young men and women.  

The most impressive feature of this system is its inconsequential GHG footprint. It is more appealing than fossil fuel energy systems because it significantly reduces pollution and increases economic growth. This system combats climate change in a three-fold manner: by reducing GHG emissions, conserving energy and increasing energy and food security. This will give the farmers the power to grow and expand at a faster rate due to the low energy costs.   

The only disadvantage is the small percentages of GHG which are released during manufacturing and maintenance of wind turbines and solar panel. Emissions associated with generating electricity from solar and wind technologies are negligible because no fossil fuels are combusted. The wind turbines and solar panels, themselves, do not emit GHGs while they are producing electricity so there is no carbon footprint created directly by their operation.  

Systems like these are the future of agriculture and of the planet. If everyone comes onto the renewable energy train, then our planet’s future will be secure.  

Disclaimer: This story does not reflect the views of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Read about the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) activities in Latin America.

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Yacouba Toussaint is 29 years old from the village of River Sallee, St.Patrick, Grenada. Link up with Yacouba Toussaint if you have any questions about his farm activities.

This blog might not necessarily reflect the views of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).