Accelerated Commercialization of Photovoltaic Water Pumping Project in Nepal

Ms. Hira Devi Pun, like many lead farmers in Surkhet had significantly increased her farm income building on training and agricultural support received from the District Agriculture Development Office and USAID’s Knowledge-based Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition (KISAN) project. However, she was still leaving her farm barren for around 6 months during the dry season due to lack of irrigation. She and her neighbors were not aware of technologies available to lift water from a spring flowing 60 meters below their land.

Through Winrock International’s Accelerated Commercialization Solar Photovoltaic Water Pumping (AC-PVWP) project and the USAID KISAN project, Ms. Pun came to know about PVWP technology. She was very keen to lift water using the PVWP to irrigate her land for year-round vegetable farming and increase her income. Ms. Pun was able to convince 8 out of 13 members of Sitaram Agricultural Group, to jointly install the PVWP system. KISAN project had helped to form the group and had provided it various trainings, agricultural inputs and technical support to increase their productivity and quality.

On 2 May 2015, with the support and collaboration of AC-PVWP project, USAID KISAN project, and Veri-Ganga Municipality Ms. Pun  together with her group installed PVWP system near her farm. High upfront cost of PVWP system was the main challenge to these farmers. They decided to take a loan of Rs. 300,000 through a local agriculture cooperative – Small Farmer Saving and Credit Cooperatives. Winrock International provided a grant of Rs. 150,000 through the AC-PVWP to enable the installation to be used as a demonstration for other farmers in the district. Similarly Veri Ganga municipality and USAID KISAN Project provided grants of Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 20,000 respectively for the installation of the system.

Within six months of installation, remarkable change has been seen in the village. Barren land has been converted to vegetable farms and farmers no longer have to depend on monsoon for their crops. Villagers are growing off-season vegetables like cauliflower, tomatoes and chilly which they are selling to nearby markets. Ms. Pun reported that she alone sold vegetables worth Rs. 150,000 (USD 1,500) in a single growing season and her neighbors have similar stories.

AC-PVWP project is working to increase awareness of the benefits of solar irrigation and accelerate commercial sales of solar pumps to small-holder farmers in collaboration with KISAN project, solar pump suppliers and cooperatives. With AC-PVWP project involvement solar pump suppliers have also introduced reliable and affordable pumping products with new financing models to scale up the solar pumping market. Under the proposed financial arrangement farmers do not have to worry about high investment cost, rather they can pay in installments within a period of 3 years. In addition, farmers gets free after sales services for 3 years with replacement warranty.

In December 2015, AC-PVWP project organized orientation and field demonstration programs for smallholder farmers, cooperative representatives and officials of District Agricultural Development Office (DADO) from Surkhet, Dailekh and Bardiya districts. The planning officers from DADO expressed their commitment to integrate solar irrigation in their work plan. They also made a commitment to provide necessary technical and financial incentives to farmers to construct storage tank for solar pumping.

Dowload file for more information: Success story Chinchu_Updated 17th Feb 2015_20160302032015