Africa’s technology firm, SunCulture, on Monday launched a solar-powered water pump in Kenya designed to offer smallholder farmers low cost solution to unreliable rainfall and lack of access to grid electricity.
SunCulture said the RainMaker, an innovative internet-connected solar water pump system, targets mass market of underserved smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The firm’s CEO Samir Ibrahim said most small holder farmers in Africa were 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,” Ibrahim said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
RainMaker said its high-efficiency positive displacement pump lifts up to 7,000 liters of water per day from wells up to 100 meters deep, offering substantial value compared to higher priced systems that can lift water only 10 meters.
Using energy from the portable 120-watt solar panel and battery bank, RainMaker pumps enough water to irrigate a one-acre farm and support livestock and household water needs like drinking, cooking and cleaning.
RainMaker is available in Kenya for 480 U.S. dollars including solar pump, controller, battery bank, portable solar panel and sprinkler.
Delivery, installation, agronomy support and after-sales services are included in the price. RainMaker will soon be available on SunCulture’s Pay-As-You-Grow platform that will enable convenient installment payments via mobile phone.
According to the firm, four out of five African families depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, but just four percent use irrigation with the rest relying on increasingly unreliable rainfall.
Switching to irrigated agriculture increases yields by 90 percent when compared to nearby rain-fed farms, as World Economic Forum, 2015 indicated, but high diesel costs make irrigation an unaffordable expense for many small farmers.
With 620 million Africans lacking a connection to the electricity grid, electric water pumps are also not a viable option.
RainMaker is both low-maintenance and highly efficient, providing farmers with high value fruits and vegetables while dramatically boosting profitability.
SunCulture’s cutting-edge Climate Smart pump controller automatically optimizes pump performance and battery charging based on cloud cover – extending pumping by up to 6 hours on cloudy days.
The controller includes long range, low power LoRa connectivity compatible with wireless soil and weather sensors that enable farmers to irrigate automatically based on soil moisture and climate conditions. Enditem