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Case Study: Environment, Food Security & Nutrition

Pioneering Solar Pump Provides Year-Round Irrigation

Farming First Farming First


Pioneering Solar Pump Provides Year-Round Irrigation

Zambia, Honduras, and Nepal

To increase agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, iDE and has developed a clean energy irrigation pump and delivery system called Clean Irrigation Solution (CIS). This was done with support from USAID’s Powering Agriculture Grand Challenge, and with partners PRACTICA Foundation and Futurepump. The CIS uses the Sunflower pump, an efficient, versatile, and cost-effective piston pump powered by a solar panel. The Sunflower pump is coupled with drip irrigation kits to maximize the agricultural output and value of each drop of water.

CIS allows farmers to produce crops all year-round, even in times of water stress and erratic rainfall, making them better equipped to deal with climate change. It strengthens resilience by providing an irrigation option for areas with limited water sources and low water table recharge rates. CIS reduces agriculture’s contribution to climate change because – as it uses no fuel – there is no direct contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

iDE has carried out field pilots for CIS in Zambia, Honduras, and Nepal. Zambian farmer Olida, from Kaumba Village in the Southern Province, started using the pump in August 2015. Based on the results she saw, neighbouring farmers became interested in purchasing the pump themselves; either to reduce the amount they spend on fuel to run a motorized pump or to try an efficient water distribution mechanism in view of the current low water levels in the local stream.

“The Sunflower pump is better than other pumps as I only need sunlight to run it,” says Olida. “It also requires less labour and so I have even extended my cabbage patch this year. Before it would take me double the time and effort to water a smaller patch with buckets.”

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