When I met Anita recently on her farm in Kafue, Zambia – I was rather star-struck. The short film interview with Anita that IDE made last year has been a real hit. When shown at a recent fundraising event in Canada the audience applauded it – unusual for a 2 minute film… See the film here (Anita comes half way through) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eBGAkLsA5Q
However, I soon warmed to her charm and immense enthusiasm for farming. Anita described her increasingly profitable journey in smallholder farming ‘we used to just have a small kitchen garden, using a bucket. After IDE came and showed us the benefits of irrigation we realised that farming is a business and can make lots of money’.
In the last few years since she first purchased a treadle pump she is now earning over $700 a season from her irrigated vegetables, and her total farm income (including a new seed multiplication business) to over $2200. True to her businesslike approach Anita has continued to invest in her business ‘we never used that money – but have a problem transporting produce the 14km to the nearest market – so we bought a second hand car’
Anita is also a great demonstration of the power of the mobile phone. Throughout our discussion she took a number of calls on her mobile, she explained that the phone enabled her to ‘get the latest market prices, and if someone wants tomatoes they just give a call and I send my boys with a couple of crates’.
Now not only is Anita getting worldwide fame – but she is spreading her learning and experience about irrigated farming to her neighbour farmers. She often hosts demonstration days on her farm to show others how to also achieve the same success.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I have just left Ethiopia where I visited Ziway in the Rift Valley where IDE is field testing a radical new way to for poor farmers to pump water for irrigation in the developing world.
IDE has gone back to 19th Century technology - but using the power of the sun rather than fossil fuels to create steam and drive a water lifting pump.
An umbrella kind of device called a parabolic mirror concentrates the rays of the sun onto a central pot of water. This water soon reaches boiling point and creates steam that travels down a plastic tube to drive the steam pump to lift water out of a well.
We have nine pumps being tested and assessed in farmer’s fields in the Rift Valley area. These are showing real promise to revolutionise the way smallholder farmers irrigate their fields, enabling them to grow high value crops for market – without the time and effort required for manual pumping.
The pump has been developed by IDE in partnership with the Practica Foundation as part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded programme that is developing, market and field testing income generating irrigation technologies for smallholder farmers in the developing world.
Nick Jeffries a student and volunteer from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales is currently studying the efficiency of these pumps using a range of monitoring techniques – I am looking forward to seeing the results soon, early data indicates that the pump can deliver around 5000 litres of water a day to a farmer’s fields.
Expectations that a final pump would retail in the region of $250. A comparable cost to a small diesel pump – but of course without the need for a farmer to buy fuel.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )