Big boost for Nyakach farmers as solar-powered irrigation is launched
A few years ago, a prime parcel of land along Nyando River in Kisumu County’s lower Nyakach area was a dwelling place for thousands of people.
However, the land was constantly water-logged and most residents migrated to higher ground. The flooded swamp became a wasteland and was seen as useless since the swollen River Nyando always emptied its flood water onto the bank causing further havoc to the Urudi community.
However, a community based organization, Destiny Mentors, identified and initiated a project to curb the flooding and reclaim the land a year ago. They installed a solar plant that pumps water from the river thus reducing the amount of water flooding.
The organization acquired the panels and water pipes from Davis and Shirtliff. The leading seller and installer of water pumps and pipes spent KSh1.3 million for the initiation of the entire project.
The 40 solar panels were placed in a position whereby they are well hit by direct sun. The panels are 100 watts each, having the capacity to generate enough energy that is used to pump water from the river to about two kilometres upstream.
The pumped water targets irrigation and reduction of the water table, hence controlling the floods. The generated solar energy has the capacity to supply water to about two kilometres upstream through piping.
“This initiative is more lucrative in this drought stricken place and people need a constant flow of water in order to grow crops,” says Samuel Molar, Chief Executive Officer Destiny Mentors. He notes: “Therefore, the installation of this solar project is considered God sent at the right time when our people are in need of it.”
Molar and some well-wishers came up with the idea of installing the solar project with their main agenda being to curb the water shortage in lower Nyakach area.
Lower Nyakach is in Kisumu County in Nyando constituency and has a population of over 40, 000, most of who can hardly access clean and sustainable water for consumption.
According to Molar, the solar project is a not-for-profit uptake but is majorly meant to help poor lower Nyakach dwellers living in the Urudi Community and the surrounding areas.It is evident that over half of the population in the area still lack access to clean water for consumption and for agriculture and livestock development.
Molar says some of the residents living around the project have started to benefit as some community based organisations use the pumped water to irrigate their farms, hence boosting food security.
Martin Mola, coordinator at Destiny says the project is at its peak as three of community based organizations have already started benefiting.
“Three community based organisations in this area are our pioneer beneficiaries and we are very impressed,” says Mola. He notes: “These groups have the access to sufficient water for their crops through irrigation.”
According to Mola, the solar project is meant to address and eradicate scarcity of clean water for consumption and for plant growth. He notes the pilot farms from the project are clear indicators that the initiative has a high potential.
The solar pumps are also used in the fish pond and demonstration plots. The supply of water is constant.
According to Mola about 1,000 fish are about to be harvested from four fish ponds which shall be sold to the community and markets around.
Water from the lake is also being pumped after three days and this is used in the fish ponds and demonstration farms.
Thomas Gunga, organisation administration officer, says plans are underway to expand the project and acquire more land for the project.
“We have big plans to expand our project. Right now we are in the process of negotiating for the purchase of land around our project location. The land will be set aside for active groups to practice commercial farming through irrigation,” explains Gunga.
It is estimated that the solar pumped water can irrigate about 20,000 acres of land.
Celestine Anyango, a member of Abuor Women’s Group says they are expecting a bumper harvest of white sorghum.
“We expect to reap higher yields due to introduction of farm irrigation that was not there before. We are grateful to Destiny Mentors for this viable project”, says Anyango.
According to Anyango, their farm produced about 500 kilogrammes in the last season when they only depended on the dwindling rainfall, but now they expect a boost in the harvest due to constant supply of water to their crops through solar powered irrigation.
However, even though the organization is trying to curb the historic shortage of water in lower Nyakach, the call for support from the county and national governments as well as the international community to come in and help is still there.
For the project to register long term success there is need for engagement with the Kisumu County administration which shall be responsible for capacity development.
The other partners included in this project are Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP) and USAID-KAVES.