Fifty-three Solar-powered Irrigation Pumps Operational in Four Districts of Nepal

   TwitCount

Fifty-three farming families in the Terai districts of Saptari, Bara, Rautahat, and Sarlahi in Nepal have enjoyed uninterrupted supply of water for irrigation since they installed solar-powered irrigation pumps (SPIPs) in their fields. The first 23 SPIPs were installed in Saptari from February to March 2017 while an additional 30 were installed recently. Data from Saptari show that SPIPs have significant positive impact on the ground.

The pumps were installed by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). 

SPIPs reduce reliance on electric and diesel pumps; the latter are expensive and require hard labour to operate. Electricity-powered pumps are also unreliable and expensive especially if farmers do not have access to subsidized electric meter from power from the national grid . Data shows that a majority of farmers do not have access to subsidized power. The replacement of diesel pumps with SPIPs has reduced black carbon emissions, and the assured access to irrigation has increased crop diversification, nutrition, and incomes. In the long run, this will improve the livelihoods of farmers who have adopted SPIP use in their farms.

As part of its research design, ICIMOD also undertook a comparative study of farmers who have adopted SPIPs and farmers who have not (but statistically similar to the former in all observable ways). In Saptari, ICIMOD has collected two rounds of data – baseline data for the agricultural year 2016–2017, before the installation of SPIPs, and midline data for the agricultural year 2017–2018, after SPIP installation. This midline data is being processed and will be shared within the next two months in the form of another update.

More than 80% of the farmers who own SPIPs are women. A 10% additional subsidy offered to women farmers had a significant impact as it resulted in families officially registering the land in a woman’s name to avail the subsidy.

Jiten Yadav’s solar powered pump in Hardiya, Saptari, irrigates 3.7 hectares of land where seasonal vegetables are grown year round. The pump’s output is 80,000–90,000 litres per day.