Solar pump owner: Nirmala Kumari Devi
District: Sarlahi
VDC: Kaudena
Picture: Nirmal Kumari and husband Rameshwa Yadav
Command area 0.5 hectares
Current crops Vegetable & cereal crops
Future plans Commercial vegetable farming
“My husband and I have to work the farm by ourselves. This system allows me to work the land independently.” - Nirmala Devi

Nirmala and her husband, Rameshwar Yadav, recently installed a solar powered irrigation system. They installed the system to be able to maintain their farmland more easily. Their children have moved to Kathmandu or are living abroad, so the entire responsibility of managing the farm is on the couple’s shoulders. Both husband and wife work side by side to maintain the farm. One of the most attractive features of the solar irrigation system is its accessibility. Anyone can operate the system, and Nirmala can independently work the system when her husband is away or busy. The solar irrigation system is in Nirmala’s name, and since an additional discount is offered when the land is in the woman’s name, Rameshwar is considering transferring the land to Nirmala’s name as well. Their quality of life has improved since the installation of solar irrigation.

Currently their farm is a subsistence vegetable and cereal crop farm. Their farming practices have been passed down through generations and they are proud to continue the tradition. However, doing this has not always been easy. Before the installation of the solar irrigation system, the family used a diesel pump to irrigate their farmland. The diesel pump was difficult to maintain and demanded a lot of time and labour. Nirmala could not operate the diesel pump by herself, and with only her and Rameshwer available to look after the farm, this was a big inconvenience. The pump guzzled a lot of fuel and raised the operation cost. They were constantly facing these issues until Rameshwar visited a friend in Rautahat. While talking with his friend, he found out that he had just installed a new irrigation system that is powered with solar energy. Rameshwar inquired about the system and his friend gave him a demonstration. Impressed with the simple and affordable new technology, Rameshwar obtained information from the field office and got his own solar powered irrigation system installed. 

Nirmala is the one who has benefited most from the new system. Before, she had to depend on her husband to irrigate their land. Now all she has to do is flip a switch and she can carry out farming activities without anyone’s help. Not only can she operate the system with ease, the discharge is greater than that of the diesel system. The availability of a reliable system with a high discharge is allowing them to further diversify their practices. Before, they could not consider expanding, because they don’t have anyone else to help them maintain the farm, but now they have an irrigation system that requires very little time and attention. They can thus manage the farm while also carrying out other responsibilities. Along with time, they are also saving money. The new system has no fuel costs, maintenance costs, transportation costs, or any other operational expenses. It is a one-time investment that provides reliable irrigation all year round. 

Solar irrigation has offered them the possibility to diversify their practices. As they have access to plenty of water, they are considering growing new and more crops. They hope to expand from the smallholder vegetable and cereal crop farm to a more developed commercial farm. They want to get more involved in commercial vegetable farming as seasonal vegetables fetch higher prices in the market. They are confident that solar irrigation will enable them to accomplish these goals.

Solar technology is innovative and designed to make life easier for smallholder farmers who have the potential to do so much more. These farmers work hard to cultivate crops and provide for their families, so they shouldn’t have to spend too much energy just on irrigating their land.