Solar pump owner: Chanda Kumari Shah
District: Saptari
VDC: Inarwa Fulbadiya
Command area 0/68 hectares
Current crops Cereal crops & seasonal vegetables
Future plans Expansion of vegetable production
“With more reliable access to water, I am getting higher yields.” - Chanda Shah

Chanda Shah owns and operates her very own solar powered irrigation system. The irrigation system and the land that it is installed on are both in Chanda’s name. An additional discount on the system is offered if the land and system are both under a woman’s name. The scheme has made the system more affordable for practicing women farmers. Chanda’s family is currently cultivating double-season paddy, wheat, lentils, and seasonal vegetables in their field. The family has been farming for generations, and one day Chanda’s son will inherit the farm. Her husband helps on the farm but she is the one who mainly operates the system. Now that they have an irrigation system that is effective and easy to use, she can irrigate her field without anyone’s help. 

The best feature of the solar irrigation system is its simplicity and user friendliness. Before, they relied on an electric pump for irrigation. This system was expensive and time consuming. Chanda would have to constantly monitor the system throughout the day to ensure that a power shortage didn’t turn off the system. This made the electric irrigation system very unreliable. The electricity bills weren’t low, either. Solar irrigation has resolved both these issues. Now, all Chanda has to do is flip a switch in the morning to turn on the system and turn it off at night. She doesn’t have to waste time on constantly monitoring the system. She also has adequate and reliable access to water without having to bear any fuel expenses. 

Apart from saving time and money, Chanda is seeing an increase in her farm productivity. She still cultivates the crops she was growing in the past, but now her harvests are much larger. Her husband attended the vegetable and aquaculture training provided by ICIMOD, and they are putting the knowledge he gained into pratice. They have not ventured into aquaculture, but are cultivating seasonal vegetables. The reliable supply of water has allowed them to expand their vegetable production as well as improve their practices. 

As solar irrigation demands very little time, Chanda can spend more time working on her land and maintaining the house. She is saving the cost of electricity and getting successful yields. The effects this new technology have created a stir in the village. Many other farmers come to inquire about the system that is able to pump water using solar energy. Many women come to visit Chanda. They are inspired by her independence and her ability to provide for her family. Solar irrigation not only improves the lives of farmers, it is also empowering women.