Solar pump owner: Mahabati Tharuni
District: Saptari
VDC: Inarwa Fulbadiya
Picture: Mahabati and daughter in-law Asha Kumair
Command area 0.47 hectares
Current crops Seasonal vegetables & cereal crops
Future plans Expansion of vegetable production
“SPIP is empowering women in agriculture.” - Asha Kumari Chaudhary (Mahabati’s daughterin-law) 

Mahabati and her daughter-in-law, Asha Kumari Chaudhary, work together to support their family. They work side by side on the farm.  Mahabati owns the land and has a solar powered irrigation pump in her name. She was able to get an additional 10% discount on the solar pump; this is offered when the pump and the land is under a woman’s name. Her son and husband work abroad, so she and Asha have to look after the farm. Their yields and income have improved since they installed the irrigation system. Now Mahabati’s son plans to return home in the near future to help with farm work. 

Before the installation of the solar irrigation system, they were only able to cultivate monsoon paddy. The land stayed barren for the remainder of the year. They were completely reliant on rainwater and had no other source of irrigation. Due to the effects of climate change, the rains have become unpredictable, and they feared they would soon face a drought and be left with no means to support themselves. Then they found out about an irrigation system that could extract groundwater using solar energy, without any fuel. After talking with a social mobilizer and attending a demonstration event, Mahabati contacted the NGO Sabal Nepal for information on how to install her own solar pump. 

Their land used to be barren during summer and winter, but after they got the solar irrigation system, their field started producing food enough to last them all year round. Their production has increased significantly, which is one of the reasons Mahabati’s son is able to return home. Now that they are able to cultivate crops all year round, they are seeing an increase in their income. They are hoping to reinvest this money back into their farm. Asha attended a vegetable and aquaculture training provided by ICIMOD. This training inspired her and made her want to expand their farm and try new crops.

Since they now have a reliable source of surplus water, Mahabati and Asha want to try their hand at vegetable farming. They plan to start small and get better at it as they go. These vegetables will be for their own consumption. Once they master the art of vegetable farming they hope to move towards commercial farming, which would require more land. They are confident and excited for the future of their farm. 

Solar irrigation is not only increasing the income and production of smallholder farmers, it is also helping families reunite. Many subsistence farmers migrate to other countries to find work in order to send money back home. There is no guarantee that they will be successful as labour migration can be expensive and very risky. Now that this family is seeing so many improvements in their farm, Mahabati’s son will be able to return home and support the farm. It is pretty amazing how far this family has come since they installed their solar pump. They are excited about the numerous possibilities that solar irrigation has opened for them.