What if we could use the limitless power of the sun to bring a more efficient source of irrigation for poor farmers? While the technology to do so already exists, one of the challenges as with many solar systems is cost.
Paul Polak , Founder of Colorado-based non-profit International Development enterprises (IDE) and an entrepreneur who has developed innovations such as the $25 treadle pump is now on a quest to remedy this problem and bring a more cost-effective solar water pump to the poor farmers of India.
The initial focus is to establish something of a water hub in a village in India. As Polak explains, “When two or more of these pumps are in the same vicinity it creates a micro-market for excess water, creating opportunity for the poorer farmers.” The big picture goal is to then create the entire water-to-crops system.
For this, Polak and his team of volunteer engineers are creating a pressurized irrigation system that brings water to a one-hectare plot with a cost target of $2,900. This cost includes well drilling, water storage, tubing, installation, and the solar pump itself. The whole system will be cheaper than buying just the panels and pump in the current solar-powered systems!
The much lower cost means farmers will be able to pay off the loans they use to purchase one in less than two years. Plus, there’s no fuel to buy as is the case with the cheaper yet more cost-intensive existing diesel water pumps. This game-changing reduction in cost will enable farmers to transform their small plot agriculture, create water markets where they don’t currently exist, and significantly increase their earnings.
To take this system to market, Polak and his team of volunteer engineers is trying to raise US$50,000 via crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. They have 11 days left and another US$24,000 to go. Check out the details of Polak’s latest innovation in this campaign video below.
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Article based on the original blog post by Andrew Revkin | Dot Earth Blog, NY Times