Most smallholder farmers in Nepal are dependent on labor intensive, time consuming and expensive methods for irrigation and livestock watering. The irrigation options available, such as rain-fed systems, hand pumps, diesel pump sets or the option of manually carrying water, often limit the farmers to subsistence farming. A reliable and sustainable water supply is needed to increase agricultural productivity, improve livestock farming and ensure food security.
In recent years, solar water pumping technologies have enabled Nepalese farmers to produce surplus crops and improve their livelihoods. However, this technology has not been widely adopted due to a lack of awareness and knowledge about this technology among market actors along the agricultural value chain. In addition, high upfront costs make the technology unaffordable for many farmers.
Winrock was successful in demonstrating and facilitating sales of solar water pumping systems to farmers for irrigation and livestock watering (fish, poultry, cattle and pigs) with various affordable business models. These included the purchase of individual systems using credit financing from micro finance institutions; vendor financing through a lease-to-own model; and the water entrepreneurship model, where farmers purchased the pump and provided water to neighbouring fields for a fee.
Building on this experience, Winrock intends to scale-up the use of solar water pumping systems and provide reliable irrigation through a knowledge exchange. This exchange aims to increase the capacities of farmers, financial institutions and policymakers in (rural) municipalities to implement innovative and appropriate business models.
Over the course of 16 months, this exchange activity aims to:
- Identify 8 farmer cooperatives and 240 farmers interested in adopting reliable water supply solutions based on solar energy
- Engage stakeholders and develop capacity building packages for solar water pumping systems and affordable business models
- Organise knowledge sharing workshops for policymakers, farmers and board members from selected farmer cooperatives to demonstrate solar water pumping systems, share the success stories of local farmers who have already adopted this technology and present financing options
The local project partners are Winrock International, the Institute for Agricultural Development and the Nepal Agricultural Cooperative Central Federation Ltd. (NACCFL).