Solar Energy in Agriculture

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

United Nations officials say the use of energy from the sun could help agricultural areas in developing countries. They say that use of solar technology could greatly improve the lives of millions of people. The U-N Food and Agriculture Organization made the comments in a new report about solar technology.

Solar technology systems use energy from the sun to make electric power. The report notes that solar energy now is used mainly in homes. It supplies power for electric lighting, radios and televisions. The F-A-O says now is the time to develop other uses for solar energy.

The report says that almost two-thousand-million people in developing countries still have no electric power. It says adding electricity alone will not end their energy problems. In general, most poor farmers will not be able to purchase solar power systems. However, the report says solar energy can provide some important social services for people in developing countries. They include water supply systems and cooling devices to store medicines.

The F-A-O gives examples of the growing use of solar energy in agriculture. For example, it can be used to pump water for crops. Solar energy can also provide water to people and their farm animals in undeveloped areas. It also can be used for electric fences.

The report says solar energy also is used in areas other than agriculture in many countries. It notes that solar technology is used in eating places, movie theaters and stores in some countries. Solar energy also provides lighting and powers small tools and devices. The report says building such systems creates jobs in undeveloped areas.

The F-A-O notes that the development of solar power systems still faces several barriers. They include high investment costs, lack of financial support and a lack of policies.

The report urges governments to support the use of solar energy in undeveloped areas. It says banks should provide loans to the developers of solar power. The report calls for increased private investment in solar energy programs. And, it says money from international aid agencies could be used to support such investments.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English