Category 18 April 2019

Training farmers to use Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems

In Pakistan, solar powered irrigation represents a clean and affordable water conservation solution for the agricultural sector. In order to promote the uptake of these systems a series of training programmes have been organised with farmers to familiarise them with solar powered pumping issues. By betterinforming and supporting technology adopters, the scheme hopes to accelerate the nationwide uptake of solar powered irrigation. 

The challenge:

Severe shortages of both energy and water create a challenging environment for farmers in Pakistan, posing a threat to the country’s food security. In the Pothwar region in particular, where rainfall is plentiful but sporadic, water cycle management systems are essential to prevent run-off and secure year-round availability. A new model was sought which could operate independent of power from an unreliable electricity network or diesel generators.

The measure:

Irrigation systems that run on solar power are increasingly being recognised as an effective solution for Pakistan’s farmers, harnessing a reliable and clean energy supply to power highly efficient irrigation techniques. The system is also affordable, with up-front costs between $4,000-13,500, and minimal operating costs.

To promote the wide-scale uptake of these systems, Pakistan’s National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) is providing tailored training to Pakistani farmers.

The three day training aims to give farming professionals, service providers, and students, knowledge in the design, layout, maintenance, evaluation and management of highly efficient solar powered irrigation systems. The sessions consist of both theory and hands-on training related to solar pumps, drip irrigation systems, sprinkler irrigation systems and furrow bed irrigation systems. In order to maximise the impact of the training, NARC scientists will continue providing support remotely to farmers looking to make the change to solar powered pump and irrigation systems.

The overall impact of such an action will only be seen over the long-term. However, due to the level of interest and positive feedback from the trainings, more of such events will be organised in the future, targeting different parts of the country.

The program is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas.

Lessons learnt:

Though solar powered irrigation systems have great promise, a lack of awareness and specific skills were perceived as barriers to their uptake in Pakistan. These trainings will help towards human resources capacity building and raising consumer awareness, both essential to support implementation of these new technologies across the country.

Further deployment:

Solar powered irrigation has been identified as an ideal solution for many developing countries. Trainings, such as those organised in Pakistan are a simple and transferable method to help increase awareness and knowledge about this solution. The measure is an estimated GML 4.