This week, One To Watch has talked with Kali Prasad, another farmer from the remote province in Western Nepal about his experiences of installing a solar-powered irrigation pump. Kali is a beneficiary and an end-user of a Solar irrigation pump developed by Gham Power.
One To Watch consecutively acts as the fund manager for the Off-Grid Renewable Energy fund and an investor in Gham Power. The ORE fund facilitates investment in clean energy projects and on developers to realize the vision of closing the financial gap for solar electrification and enabling climate action in the Himalayas while developing remote communities through providing access to affordable renewable energy.
Kali Prasad has been a farmer all his life and like most people in his village, farming is the only occupation that he and his family have been involved in for generations. At 38 years old, Kali has a family of 5 to feed with two sons and a daughter. We inquired Kali about his farm and his approach to farming with the limited resources at his disposal. He told us that like most farmers of the region, the biggest challenge for him was the supply of water. He told us, “Previously, I used the underground water from “boring” which is oftentimes had to be collected manually. Although there is an electricity connection, it is extremely unreliable and has frequent power cuts. Plus, the higher costs make it expensive to use.” The use of a solar irrigation pump has eased Kali’s problems a lot and we asked him about his first introduction to the product. “I came across a Gham Power video on solar pumps on YouTube and enquired about the possibilities and got in touch with them.” The process for acquiring the solar pump was easy as Kali described, taking two weeks to complete the installation process. The only delay that Kali faced was to find 10 people to act as witnesses for arranging the process of EMI (Equated Monthly Installments) to finance the pumps. As soon as the pumps were installed, the water availability increased significantly for Kali. “I have increased my production and it is now cheaper with easier and reliable irrigation. I still wish that I could have more water but it is a lot more than before.”
The total land leased by Kali is around the size of two football fields and he employs around 15 people to work in the farm. “In the last two years, I have been able to increase the size of my farm as well as increased the number of people working under me; I have also been able to start a fish farm because of the Solar water pump system.” The interview with our farmer Kali, gave us an idea about the increased efficiency in his harvest. In terms of economic and living standard changes, we wanted to understand the impact of the intervention of the solar water pump system. “I started this farm around 2.5 years back with the solar pump system installed within 3 months; Now I earn around 800.000-1.00.000 NPR (5600-7000 EUR) annually and have increased my sales by 50%.”
Kali has told us that his main benefits after the installation of the solar water pumps is improved irrigation thereby a better harvest and increased production. To inquire about the repayment of the monthly installments, we asked him if the Covid Pandemic had an impact on the schedule and he mentioned that sales were slower and such it was a bit harder to keep up with the schedule. But kali is not losing hope and in fact planning to expand his fish farm. He hopes that things will get better and as he said, “I hope to have no problems after lockdown and as situation gets better, I have 15 workers dependent on me so I also have to think about them.” As we neared the end of our conversation with Kali, we asked him about his future plan regarding his farm and he told us that he would like his peers to use solar pumps as well for a better produce and added that he was looking forward to the Agri-advisory services provided by Gham Power.