Field Visit by Bank Officials to Taule Solar Lift Irrigation Project

A field visit to a solar lift irrigation project located at Taule VDC, Surkhet District was organized for branch managers and senior officials of NMB Bank Ltd. and Nepal Grameen Bikas Bank Ltd. on 7th May 2016.  This solar pumping system was installed one year ago by Sitaram Agriculture Users Group at Chhinchu, with financial and technical support from the consortium of partners i.e. USAID’s AC-PVWP, KISAN, Bheri-Ganga Municipality and Small Farmer Agricultural Cooperative. This 1200 Watt system is serving 10 households and irrigates around 35 Ropani land. On average 10,000 Litres of water is pumped every day for the irrigation purpose.

Despite the fact that solar water pumping is a proven technology and considerably improves socio-economic conditions of rural farmers and is cost effective compared to diesel water pumps; it is not commonly preferred technology for irrigation in Nepal. The main reason is lack of awareness and demonstration of benefits of these technologies and lack of credit financing from banks.

This project demonstrates successful model under which small farmers were able to purchase this system under credit modality with the secured repayment from the additional income they earned from having a reliable irrigation system. Farmers’ group owning this project has taken a loan of NRs. 300,000 (around 60% of total system cost) from a local Small Farmer Saving and Credit Cooperative at 18% interest rate with a 3 years tenure. Within a year, they were successful in repaying back 40% of their loan from an income from selling vegetables. Moreover, after spending households related expenses of each group member, this farmers group was still able to save NRs. 36,000, which is deposited at their common account.

This field visit was organized by Winrock International with an objective to demonstrate solar lift irrigation technology and its positive impacts to rural farmers in order to have bank officials’ interest and attract banks future involvement in credit financing in the technology. Credit financing for solar lift irrigation can evolve as one of the major opportunities of Bank and Financial Institutions in order to bridge financial gap.

During field visit, 56 bank officials observed practical demonstration of solar lift irrigation project and also discussed with farmers on its technical performance, financial aspects and socio-economic benefits the technology has brought in their lives.