Only 1% of Nigeria’s farmlands are irrigated. This means that farmers, mostly smallholders, do their farming during the rainy season. Unfortunately, this dependence on rainfed agriculture makes farmers vulnerable to variations in weather.
In 2020, Propcom Mai-karfi went into partnership with Bols N Sels and others to pilot a business model to promote the adoption of solar-powered irrigation technologies through its Solar Irrigation intervention. Thus, giving smallholder farmers access to affordable irrigation services, reducing their dependence on rainfall, and allowing for year-round farming. It also eliminates the high costs associated with fossil fuel-powered pumps and their resultant emission of green-house gases.
Doris Obed, a 65-year-old smallholder rice farmer from Karim Lamido Local Government Area of Taraba State, was one of the early adopters of the solar-powered pumps provided by Bols N Sels. Her motivation for acquiring the solar-powered pump was the increasingly
prohibitive cost she incurred for fueling and maintaining the fossil fuel-powered pump she previously used to irrigate her farm.
Using the old technology [fossil-powered pump] was not effective for me because I spent more on fueling and servicing.
According to Doris, converting to a solar-powered pump was the best decision she could have made for her farm as the solar pump has proved to be more durable than the fuel powered one she had been using and has helped her save money she would have otherwise
used for fueling, servicing, and replacing parts for her former pump. Of greater import is the yield Doris says she has obtained from her farmland due to better irrigation obtained with the solar pump, which has positively impacted her income overall.
…I have saved more money which would have been used for fueling or unnecessary maintenance leading to higher volume of water for and better yield from the farm.
The solar-powered pumps worked seamlessly and did not break down or require frequent repairs unlike the fossil-fuelled pumps that frequently broke down and would be inoperable for hours or days even. Along with improved yield and cost savings, Doris saved time from using the solar pump since she had little or no downtime irrigating with it. Based on her estimation, with solar irrigation she spends
less time preparing and transplanting her rice farm.
…before acquiring this new technology, I spent 5 weeks for land preparation and 3 weeks for transplanting but now I spend only about 3 weeks for land preparation and less than 2 weeks for transplanting.
Doris has not kept the pump to herself. She has started a business providing irrigation services to other farmers who are incapable of procuring pumps for themselves. This way the whole community benefits. She has also assisted another farmer to procure the pump by linking him to the vendor.
It [the solar pump] has improved my status in the community. They call me ‘Comi’ meaning irrigation farmer in the community.
At the household level, Doris used additional income from using the solar pump to finance the roofing of a housing project she had been working. She also credits the pump for extra income she used to expand her farmland and employ more farm hands. Doris is content and happy with her investment in the solar pump.
“I don’t have to buy and transport fuel to the farm, labour costs have reduced, no noise and air pollution anymore. I increased my farm size. started another, and increased my employees, thanks to this new technology. I am indeed grateful and happy.”