Climate-smart Agriculture: Solar Powered Pumps Empower Women Farmers

Published April 18, 2019

By: Lucy Kioko, Agriculture Product Manager, AgriFin Accelerate. Marcus Watson, Partner, Dalberg Advisors.

About Powering Agriculture

Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development supports the development and deployment of clean energy innovations that increase agriculture productivity and stimulate low carbon economic growth in the agriculture sector of developing countries to help end extreme poverty and extreme hunger.

Christine Wajiru, 66 years-old, lives on a 1-acre farm in rural Kenya with no grid connection. Selling the milk from her two dairy cows, as well as the surplus maize on the half-acre on which she farms, is her main source of income.

For most of her farming life, Christine got her water from her 70m hand-dug well, where she would lower a 20-litre bucket, and use a pulley system to bring it to the surface. She would pull 10 buckets of water (200 litres) every day to meet her crop irrigation and domestic needs. She would rely on her husband to do the same and  water the cows after he came home from work, but if he was too tired, their cows wouldn’t get enough water to produce much milk. Each cow was producing as little as 2 litres per day. This was having a negative effect on her income.

Christine’s situation is typical for most rural women. While water is central to any farming household, more than 70% of farm labour, including activities like finding and drawing water, are performed by women.  New and more appropriate technologies are often targeted at men, leaving women out. To address this inequality, AgriFin Accelerate supports farming-related service providers who set out to reach women farmers. AFA partnered with SunCulture, a solar micro-irrigation provider in Africa, to support their development of a targeted distribution strategy to ensure more women access the RainMaker, one of their products. The Rainmaker is a quality yet affordable solar water pump specially designed for smallholder farmers and their households. It can pump water from as deep as 100 meters to use for crop irrigation and livestock rearing, as well as domestic uses.

Read the full case study here

After hearing about SunCulture, Christine invested in a RainMaker, receiving the solar water pump under the pay-as-you-grow financing program. This has transformed her dairy and crop farming. She is now able to access up to 2,000 liters of water per day, which is more than enough for her domestic needs, as well as watering her cows and irrigating her half-acre of farmland. Her cows are now producing between 4 to 6 liters per day and with a more reliable water supply there is potential to increase her dairy productivity. When Christine is ready next year, SunCulture will refinance her to help her purchase a drip irrigation kit to pair with her water pump, through which she will be able to increase her crop yield further.

Through her investment in a Rainmaker, Christine not only increased the amount of water she has access to daily – she has been able to save time and energy which she would have used to draw water previously. This time she now can invest in her own leisure, her family, or even growing an additional business. All of which ensures her wellbeing as a woman.

Related News & Events: 
Jan. 30, 2019

SunCulture's RainMaker2 powered by ClimateSmart™ is on the market! Not only can farmers irrigate their fields more sustainably and consistently, and with a reliable source of power, they can now benefit from internet-connected weather stations and soil sensors that provide informative alerts by SMS.

Jan. 18, 2019

Once again, Futurepump and SunCulture have been selected by the London Stock Exchange Group as Companies to Inspire Africa. This pioneering report identifies Africa’s most inspirational and dynamic private, high-growth companies to a global market. Congratulations to them both!