Smallholder Agriculture | April 11, 2024

SunCulture raises $27.5 million to expand solar irrigation for smallholder farmers

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

Nairobi-based SunCulture has been making affordable irrigation systems for smallholder farmers in Africa since 2013. A decade ago, farmers had difficulty finding affordable technologies designed for small plots of land. Compounding the challenge is that today’s smallholder farmers who rely on rain are pressed by climate change, including unpredictable rain patterns and drought.

“Building climate resilience is crucial for smallholder farmers in Africa, who are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” the SunCulture team wrote last year.

The company’s $27.5 million Series B equity round included $12 million from InfraCo. Other investors include Acumen and its Acumen Resilience Agriculture Fund, the Schmidt Family Foundation and Netflix founder Reed Hastings. 

SunCulture’s lowest-cost irrigation systems start at 20,000 Kenyan shillings, or $150. Its pay-as-you-go product line also includes more sophisticated systems with backup battery storage and add-ons like home lighting and televisions. Revenues from the sale of carbon credits could help the company reduce the price of its products.

SunCulture last year launched a pilot with support from British International Investment and the Shell Foundation to verify and sell credits based on emission reductions from the displacement of diesel-powered irrigation systems.

“Carbon finance must be used to accelerate the scaling of green technology in emerging markets,” said SunCulture’s Samir Ibrahim.