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Small scale farmers benefit from solar-powered water pumps

Part of the coastal region which was previously engaging in charcoal burning is slowly moving into irrigation which is more sustainable using solar-powered water pumps.

Msumarini Self Help Group, a group that has benefited from solar-powered water pumps, is made up of 16 members who are currently engaging in irrigation.

Solar-powered water pump panel at the Msumarini irrigation project

In 2017, the group stopped engaging in charcoal burning and ventured into irrigation which has seen them realize more profits among other benefits.

The group makes an average income of Ksh. 78,400 per month after they sell their crop to the locals as they do not yet have a ready market for their produce.

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The self-help group leases an acre of land for three years at a cost of Ksh. 4000 per month.

Msumarini Chairlady Lucy Wangui, while speaking to KBC said that with the assistance of the county government and organizations like World Wildlife Fund- Kenya (WWF), irrigation has become a more sustainable venture.

Wangui also said that “with irrigation, we do not have to depend on the erratic weather conditions.”

Lucy Wangui, Msumarini Chairlady in the farm

“Small scale farmers are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture thus leaving them at the mercy of erratic weather patterns. This has a bearing on food security for the smallholder farmer who mainly relies on subsistence farming. Irrigation is, therefore, a climate adaptation option for these farmers.” Irene Mwaura – Project officer-energy and climate change, WWF-Kenya.

The farmers now have a more reliable alternative as opposed to conventional means that may be more unreliable. The group now farms at a lower cost as opposed to before when they incurred extra charges in fuel cost to pump from their water source.

“Solar-powered water pumps provide a sustainable and cost-efficient alternative to conventional water pumps. Farmers only have to rely on a free natural resource, the sun, to pump water. Through the intervention, which has been piloted in Kwale and Lamu Counties, we have seen farmers realize the value of sustainable agriculture in light of climate change threats. For farmers in Lamu, sustainable agriculture provides an alternative to charcoal production which is harmful to nature and people but was their main economic activity,” said Ms Mwaura.

“The community is also a beneficiary of our success by extension because we hire the youth to do farming and also show them that irrigation is an alternative way of earning a living instead of engaging in crime to sustain themselves,” Wangui said.

Youth watering crops at the Msumarini irrigation project

The self-help group has also acquired knowledge through training and is using it to expand their wealth base by planning to venture into animal rearing.


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