Solar pump owner: Sunita Devi Jha
District: Saptari
VDC: Bamangamakatti
Picture: Sunita Devi with her husband Shailendra Jha
Command area 0.47 hectares
Current crops Vegetable & aquaculture
Future plans Expansion of current crops
“It is a reliable system. I have access to water whenever I need it.” - Shailendra Jha (Sunita’s husband)

Sunita Jha has a solar pump and farmland in her name. This allowed her family to get an additional 10% discount on the system. The discount is provided to women farmers who own both the land and the pump. The scheme seeks to empower women through agriculture and make the system more affordable. Sunita and her husband, Shailendra, work together to maintain their farm and provide for their family. These tasks have become much easier since they installed the solar pump. 

The Jha family has been farming for generations. Shailendra is employed in the water supply division in his district. His job keeps him busy, which leaves Sunita alone to work on the farm most of the time. The solar pump has increased her ability to complete the chores on the farm. Before, they relied on an 8 HP diesel pump. It was incredibly difficult for Sunita to operate this pump alone. It required labour, time and money, none of which was easily available. This hindered Sunita’s ability to independently manage the farm in her husband’s absence. Fortunately, solar irrigation has solved these issues. 

The solar pump is incredibly easy to operate. With the flip of a switch Sunita can have adequate and reliable access to water for irrigation. She can operate the system all by herself, without anyone’s help. It is not like the diesel pump, which required a lot of maintenance and constant monitoring. The solar pump has no maintenance or fuel costs. 

Solar irrigation has also increased the Jha family’s options in terms of what they want to cultivate. Before, they were growing cereal crops and a limited variety of vegetables for their own consumption. Now they are able to cultivate a diverse variety of vegetables along with cereal crops and are experimenting with a few tree species (Teak and Mahagony). They have even dug a pond for aquaculture since the installation of the solar pump. After installing the pump, Shailendra attended the vegetable and aquaculture training provided by ICIMOD for solar pump owners. At the training he learned about new farming techniques and the best ways to use the solar pump. He also received vegetable seeds, which he used to grow more vegetables. Solar irrigation has brought such remarkable changes in their farm they are hoping to expand their farm in the future. 

Although they have little interest in starting commercial farming, the Jha family still has plans to expand their production. Now that they have a reliable source of water, they want to increase their vegetable production, as vegetables because have a higher nutritional value. They are also hoping to expand their aquafarm in the future and dig more fish ponds. 

Solar irrigation has helped Sunita become an independent farmer. The Jha family is saving money and seeing an increase in yields and production. They have received training on how best to utilize their resources and are planning increase their production. Solar irrigation has thus had numerous positive impacts on their livelihood.