An international firm, Futurepump has invented a system that can draw over 12,000 litres of shallow and surface water a day from a lake or river. This system will aid in tapping into small scale farmers who solely depend on rainfall to perform agricultural activities. The solar irrigation pump referred to as Sunflower is a low cost portable and robust technology that assists small scale farmers to meet their needs by offering them a cheaper, cleaner and more sustainable alternative to costly and polluting petrol or diesel pumps.
The Sunflower solar irrigation has three main parts, an 80W Photovoltaic (PV) panel to convert sunlight into electrical energy, a direct current motor specifically designed to use electrical energy to turn the flywheel, and the pump in a reciprocal piston pump to draw water out of a well, river or lake. Also, it has a manual switch that operates early in the morning and late in the day.
Speaking at the launch of the irrigation system, Futurepump, Business Development Manager, Mike Parker said, “This Sunflower system is intended for farm-wide irrigation and is able to pump over 100 meters with minimal loss of flow making it ideal to pumping into elevated storage tanks or directly into drip irrigation systems.”
He added that the Sunflower solar irrigation system retails at KES40, 000 and it has only been implemented in Nyanza. We plan to extend to other areas in efforts to save farmers from high irrigation costs. Nevertheless, Futurepump is looking into firms that it can partner with to increase its uptake of the solar irrigation design.
In July 2015,Institute for Culture and Ecology and Greenpeace Africa held an exhibition in Nairobi’s National Museum to capture ecological farming practices among Kenya’s small scale farmers responding to climate change. The exhibition themed, ‘The Era of Resilience- the Journey of a Kenyan Farmer’ sought to enlighten farmers on use of ecological practices such as intercropping, drip irrigation, indigenous knowledge, and using compost and manure for enhancing soil fertility.At the end of the exhibition, Institute for Culture and Ecology and the Greenpeace Africa urged government to put small holder farmers at the center of their agricultural vision.