Solar pump owner: Sumitra Devi
District: Rautahat
VDC: Katahariya
Command area 10.13 hectares
Current crops Sugarcane and seasonal vegetables
Future plans Expansion of vegetable production
Solar pump installation date March 30th, 2018
“Solar pump is a new modern technology that is making our lives easier.” - Jay Mangal Shah (Sumitra’s Son)

You can only utilize what you have access to. This accurately describes the situation of smallholder farmers in rural areas. Their problem is not lack of education, but a lack of access to new information and technology. They are eager to try modern practices, but the new technology is not available locally. As Jay Mangal Shah said, “I want to move towards advanced mechanized agriculture. I am trying to expand into new technology to ease my work. But I rely on the market and despite my efforts such technology is simply not available.” Jay Shah is inspired to new technology following his success with the new solar irrigation system.

The system is owned by his mother Sumatra Devi, and Jay spends most of his time working with the system on their farm. The farmland and solar pump are in Sumatra’s name. An additional 10% subsidy is offered on land and farm equipment that is in a woman’s name. This provision seeks to empower female farmers through agriculture and new technology. Solar irrigation was exactly what the family had been looking for. They understood that there had to be new advancements in a profession that so many rely on. The technology that allowed them to pump groundwater with energy from the sun provided a breakthrough they were hoping for. Solar irrigation has had a major impact on the family farm.

Jay is also employed as a teacher at a local school. He spends most of his time teaching and working on the farm. Before the installation of the solar powered irrigation system, they relied on a 7.5 HP diesel pump for irrigation. However, the diesel pump demanded a lot of attention and time. His mother could not operate it as maintaining it was a strenuous task. Jay no longer needs to devote the same amount of time to the solar pump. He can just turn the system on in the morning and shut it off at night. He doesn’t have to constantly supply fuel or provide maintenance to the system. His mother can also easily operate the solar pump, with just a flip of a switch. Solar irrigation saves their time and labour, and also money in the long run, all of which they can invest in agriculture. 

Now that they have a reliable source of water, the family is looking to expand into a more commercial farm. With the use of solar irrigation they have been able to cultivate crops in all three seasons. Before, they were only engaged in sugarcane farming. Since the installation of the solar pump they have been able to grow more diverse crops including a variety of vegetables. Given their success, they are hoping to expand into a more commercial farm where they can grow seasonal vegetables. 

Their future looks promising because of solar powered irrigation. Jay hopes that his young son will continue with agriculture and inherit the farm. It’s a respected and rewarding profession. In Jay’s eyes, modern practices can make life easier for farmers like him. Having seen the positive effects of solar irrigation, he is even more motivated to adopt these new practices. He shares his enthusiasm with his neighbours and others in the community who often come to witness the power of solar irrigation and ask him how they can invest in the technology.