Kathmandu / The agriculture ) GmbHsector is the single largest employer in the world, sustaining the livelihood of 40% of the population, many of whom live in poverty (UN, 2015). Worldwide, food is produced mainly on rain-fed land. Approximately 95% of farmed land in sub-Saharan Africa and 60% in South Asia rely on seasonal rains to meet water needs (IWMI, 2010). Irrigation is among the measures that can improve yields, reduce vulnerability to changing rainfall patterns, and enable multiple cropping practices (FAO, 2011).
According to the ILO, 68% of Nepal's population is employed in the agriculture and forestry sector, accounting for 34% of the GDP. However, the declining agricultural production is affecting the rural economies and the country is struggling to produce an adequate supply of food for its citizens and meeting the surge of the demands. To increase the yields and cope with rising demand for food in Nepal, the land area under irrigation will need to expand, but this would translate into increased energy.
The fundamental think is how we consume and supply the energy with respect to water and food production. Water pumping for irrigation consume energy and can be feed either from grid electricity, diesel pump or cleaner technologies like solar energy. The grid infrastructure fails to reach many rural areas or is inadequately equipped to handle an increasing pumping load. Where electricity supply is available, it is often unreliable, supply and voltage fluctuations and have to face longs hour of load shedding. The diesel pumps which have fairly low investment, despite that poses environmental risks and have high operational cost and a growing threat to energy security. Using solar energy for irrigation can provide reliable and environmentally sustainable energy compared with the fuel driven engines, usually diesel.
In Nepal, where there is no or unreliable power grid the choices for powering pumps with solar energy can play a pivotal role for the growth of the agriculture sector. Solar water pumping for irrigation when deployed will increased productivity of the land and ensure food security as well as results in improved income generation through year round multi-cropping.
Most of the world's poor are farmers, the scenario is not different in Nepal. When the farmers get more water for irrigation, they will cultivated more crops and product of such farming is food. As a result more food are produce and they earn more money. Those food they don't keep to themselves but helps to feed the communities as well as the nation and make them healthy. Solar water pumping technology can play a vital role in ensuring sustainable and effective access to water for irrigation and many other purposes as well as lift many farmers out of poverty. --- Bikash Uprety
Technical Advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH