Introducing solar water pumping systems to small farmers in Nepal

To irrigate their fields most small farmers in Nepal depend on rainfall, some farmers are using diesel-powered water pumps and others even carry water manually to irrigate their fields and provide water for their livestock from nearby rivers or small streams. While diesel-powered water pumps can be expensive and polluting the lack of irrigation can result in limited production and missed opportunities to sell surplus agricultural products. This SEPS-knowledge exchange project in Nepal implemented by Winrock International and its local partners (Nepal Agricultural Cooperative Central Federation Ltd.) addressed this issue by expanding the knowledge and promoting solar water pumping systems (SWPs) as clean and financially viable irrigation option to members of eight small farmer cooperatives in three districts of Nepal: Nawalpur, Rupandehi and Kapilvastu.

The project team carried out several activities including knowledge exchange, capacity building, system demonstration, follow up and monitoring for the promotion of SWP system among smallholder farmers for irrigation. The project further facilitated network development among municipal officials, cooperatives, farmers and SWP supplier companies.

To tackle one of the biggest obstacles for SWPs the project also aimed to increase the access to financing options for rural farmers. The project provided farmers with an orientation on the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) subsidy program and also financing options from financial institutions like SFACLs. As a result a total of 17 SWP systems have been installed in the project area. 16 SWP systems were installed under AEPC subsidy program, and 1 SWP system was installed with credit facility from JSLBSL.

The feedback from the farmers who installed a SWP was very positive. Some were able to increase their incomes. Others welcomed the replacement of the diesel engines, which caused additional costs for fuel and operation as well as maintenance. Furthermore, some farmers reported that they could even provide neighboring farmers with water from their SWP system. These results show that the transfer of knowledge about sustainable energy solutions and support by different actors to achieve those, are a major determinant on the way to achieving SDG 7 – sustainbale energy access for all.

You want to delve deeper into the topic? Listen to our webinar about sustainable energy solutions for irrigation. 7. Energy for Water from “Sun&Co” – Renewable Energy Innovations for Irrigation

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