Solar Irrigation Pumps for Smallholder Farmers

Published Oct. 19, 2018

By Sustania for Global Opportunity Explorer

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.

Futurepump’s solar powered irrigation systems provide clean and cost effective water management solutions for farmers operating on a small scale.

Futurepump manufactures portable, solar powered irrigation systems for use by smallholder farmers. Each irrigation kit comes with a pump mechanism powered by a solar panel, a suction pipe, hose for water distribution, and irrigation sprinklers. The suction pipe can retrieve water from depths of up to seven and a half meters – making it ideal for farmers that rely on shallow wells, rivers, or lakes to water their crops – and can pump up to one litre per second. The pump mechanism is lightweight and foldable, including the solar panels, making it more easily transported than heavy diesel alternatives.

Their price level was determined with affordability for smallholder farmers in mind, and comes with a five year warranty. A key feature of the design is its simplicity, meaning that many farmers are able to fix problems themselves using the user manual and spare parts provided by the distributors. In addition, all new pumps are fitted with a sim card and data logging system, which tracks usage of the pump and can be used to forecast maintenance needs – for instance, the sensor devices could detect if a part needs changing, and send a text notification to the user to repair it.

The solar irrigation pumps are currently available in nine countries across Africa and Asia.

Why you should care

In Kenya, where Futurepump was developed, over two thirds of the population work in agriculture, with an average farm size of half an acre, to supply 60% of the food consumed by Kenyan people. However, prolonged drought across the country put pressure on farmers to irrigate their crops, an expensive undertaking for smallholder farmers relying on diesel water pumps. Futurepump’s solar irrigation systems can provide a lower cost irrigation mechanism that saves them both the time and cost of using conventional fuel systems.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Sustainable Development Goal 8



Decent work and economic growth

Futurepump’s technology reduces the labour intensity of irrigation for small scale farmers, improving economic efficiency.

Sustainable Development Goal 13





Climate action

Futurepump is improving access to irrigation for farmers in water-scarce areas like Kenya, improving resilience to climatic changes such as increased drought frequency and severity.

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