Solar pump owner: Mamta Yadav
District: Saptari
VDC: Badgama
Picture: Mamta Yadav with her husband Ram Narayan
Command area 0.25 hectares
Current crops Cereal crops & vegetables
Future plans Expansion to commercial vegetable production
“The system is great, there is no fuel cost and it’s easy to operate.” - Mamta Yadav

Mamta Yadav currently owns and operates a solar powered irrigation pump. The farmland and the pump are both in Mamta’s name; this allowed her to get the additional 10% subsidy offered to women who have both the farmland and the pump under their name. The scheme seeks to empower women farmers as well as make the solar pump more affordable. Mamta’s husband Ram Narayan, is a principal at Lower Secondary School in Badgama and is busy all day. So Mamta is responsible for most of the work on the farm. That is why it is crucial that the family has an irrigation system that she can easily operate. The solar irrigation system has answered this need. 

Before, Mamta had tried using diesel and electric pumps for irrigation. The pumps were incredibly difficult for her to operate alone. She needed help from her husband or neighbours to run those systems. Neither of the systems was reliable. She would have to monitor them throughout the day to make sure they did not turn off from a power outage or require more fuel. It was time-consuming and ineffective. Providing irrigation to their land was a daily challenge for Mamta. Fortunately, they have found an alternative that involves not of these issues.

 Solar irrigation has enhanced Mamta’s ability to work independently on her farm. She doesn’t need anyone’s assistance to operate the solar irrigation system. With the flip of a switch she can get access to water for irrigation. The solar pump is incredibly reliable. Mamta goes once in the morning to turn it on, and again at night to turn it off. The system runs all day without any maintenance or attention. This has saved Mamta’s time and allwed her to focus on maintaining the land and other household responsibilities. Also, solar irrigation has no fuel costs. It is powered by solar energy throughout the day, and doesn’t require any electricity or diesel. This has increased her savings. 

Earlier, their land was barren. The soil was dry and unproductive throughout all seasons. Mamta attended the vegetable and aquaculture training provided by ICIMOD for solar pump owners. Now, however, the land is producing paddy and a variety of vegetables. At the training she learned about new farming techniques that would work best with the new irrigation system. She also received vegetable seeds, which she has used to start vegetable production. Dependable access to water has allowed her great flexibility in terms of what she can cultivate. Both paddy and vegetables require a substantial amount of water. Before, growing these two crops was not an option for her family, but now they are able to cultivate just about anything. The family’s production has increased significantly and this has inspsired them to expand their farm in the future. 

Mamta is hoping to add more land to increase her vegetable production. She wants to expand their subsistence farm into a commercial vegetable farm. She is hoping that this will increase her family income and that she will be able to reinvest it back into agriculture. She has big plans for her farm, and is confident that she will be successful now that she has a system that provides reliable access to water.

Solar irrigation is not only supporting smallholder farmers, it is also empowering women farmers. Easy access to water is revolutionizing women’s roles in small villages. Solar pumps are enabling women to have direct impact on their families’ income and farm production. This revolution is assisted by improved yields, affordable irrigation, and reliable access to water.