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A portable solar powered solution to irrigate fields

A portable solar-powered water pump that ensures energy access and water control to enable all-year farming

Agriculture is one of India’s most important employment sectors and contributes to 18% of the country’s GDP. It is also no secret that approximately 60% of the Indian rural population relies heavily on agriculture as a livelihood*.

Water plays a crucial role for farmers to sow, grow, and harvest the produce that is intrinsic to their region.

80% of Indian farmers own small plots of land. Most of them rely on inconsistent rain and expensive, pollutant diesel or kerosene pumps to irrigate their fields. Furthermore, the farmers need to irrigate all year round and these solutions are not economically or environmentally conducive. The situation also pushes the farmers to take up temporary jobs outside the farming sector to subsist.

Solar irrigation as a solution

Currently, farmers are forced to rely on expensive diesel pumps or 0.5 HP electric pumps whose performance is erratic owing to unreliable electricity supply. Solar powered water pumps can be considered an alternative with relatively lesser issues of reliability, access (does not face the same challenges with respect to acquiring diesel) and timeliness (the electricity is produced during the day).

Solar powered water pumps can be considered a sustainable alternative that’s a one-time cost with minimal maintenance over time. However, a robust financial system is the need of the hour for easy access to funding in rural areas.

How it works:

The Khethworks pump delivers high efficiency with less energy. Currently being tested in the districts of Gumla and Khunti, the entire pump-set weighs around 6 kilograms and can be easily carried on a bicycle. Its weight also makes it suitable to lift water from wells, and enables the sharing of this technology and pump between members of the community. 

Its key highlights include:

  • Super-efficient submersible pump that runs on 330-watt solar panels and gives around 1 litre per second discharge head at 10 metres

  • On an average, it can provide up to 30 kilolitres of water a day

  • Suitable to lift water from dug-wells and irrigate around 1 acre of land under vegetables with a 3-day irrigation cycle with 25mm per irrigation

Pumping ahead

This portable solar pump aims to enhance access to irrigation, especially for small-holder farmers. The immediate focus is now to establish local distribution networks and development of financial products supported by financial institutions such as banks, self-help groups, and micro-finance institutions. This will allow farmers to easily access the technology and provide economic safety to their families.

The propriety technology for this was developed at MIT for 2.5 years before it was brought to India. The Khethworks portable solar-powered irrigation pump was further researched developed, and tested in Jharkhand and West Bengal.

**July 2020,,18%20percent%20to%20India's%20GDP.*

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