Kenya is still an agricultural economy, even though the country has made great strides in mining, processing, and service industry. The majority of Kenyans still earn a living from agriculture.
The biggest challenges the agriculture sector faces is unreliable rainfall, given the majority of farming activities in Kenya depends on the rains. It has been said only 4% of farmers around the country use irrigation farming. For the rest, when it rain fails, things go south as far as making a living is concerned.
In a move to make it possible for more farmers to adopt irrigation farming during the dry spell, SunCulture, a renewable energy, and irrigation equipment manufacturer, has unveiled a new solar water pump, the RainMaker.
While there are already numerous solar water pumps in the market, SunCulture touts the RainMaker as a very efficient and innovative one in the sense that it is internet-connected and designed to meet the need for small-scale farmer. It is important to point out that much of agricultural activities in Kenya are done by smallholder farmers.
The RainMaker pump is said to be capable of lifting a maximum of 7,000 liters of water from a well 100 meters deep (328 feet). What is more interesting is that the pump is priced at Ksh. 50,000 (about $490) and if the performance is what SunCulture says it is, it already outperforms other higher priced solar pumps that can only lift water from wells 10 meters deep.
The RainMaker solar pump kit comes with a 120-watt solar panel, a battery, sprinkler and a water pump. A single kit is enough to supply water for a one-acre farm, while also support the water needs of livestock and household. SunCulture also delivers the kit to your home and does the installation and some after-sales services all included in the price.
The CEO and co-founder of SunCulture, Samir Ibrahim, said, “Most smallholder farmers in Africa are only one bad harvesting season away from financial ruin. Solar-powered irrigation offers farmers an affordable alternative to the cost of diesel and electric irrigation technology, enabling them to substantially reduce energy costs and boost agricultural output.”
How about on cloudy days?
While most parts of Kenya do get strong-to-enough sunshine on any typical days. During the rainy seasons, the clouds tend to make the less sunshine reach the ground. SunCulture says the RainMaker is fitted with a Climate Smart pump controller that will keep water flowing up to 6 hours during the cloudy days.
For farmers who will not able to make an upfront purchase of the RainMaker water pump, SunCulture is proposing a Pay-As-You-Grow mode of payment via mobile money in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Malawi.