In this last part of the irrigation series, CHARLES ZIBA outlines how the Foundation of Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) is revolutionalising irrigation agriculture in the country with latest technologies.
Times have changed, the climatic conditions are unpredictable, rainy seasons are no longer reliable for our nation to be food secure. This spells disaster for a nation highly depends on agriculture for its survival.
However, not all is lost; there is still hope for Malawi and the entire world if and only new agricultural activities and innovations are embraced amid erratic climate change.
While some are folding arms and giving up on agriculture due to the prevailing unfavourable conditions, great minds are spending sleepless nights in coming up with innovations that can curb the challenges and foster agricultural activities that would not only ensure food security but also improve livelihood of the vulnerable populations in societies.
The latest Fisd innovation for small scale agriculture is a mobile solar irrigation system that has been named the Solar Water Now Kit.
The mobility aspect of the solar irrigation kit is not only viable for those operating a small irrigation scheme but also makes it possible for farmers in different operational settings to share the resource apart from being secure wise.
To make it even more accessible to many populations in the society, the mobile irrigation kit is being sold at a very competitive price that small scale farmers can afford. The kit also comes with a guarantee of two years from Fisd and the system has the life span of not less than 20 years.
Amid climate change, irrigation farming is the most viable and reliable solution that can entirely address the challenges posed by current weather variability.
This is why Fisd has been promoting irrigation farming since its establishment in 2005.
Fisd was founded with the sole mission of transforming Malawi towards a position of sustainable food security and improved livelihoods of vulnerable populations by joining the Government of Malawi and other stakeholders in efforts to facilitate adoption of viable irrigation technologies.
The year 2012 stands out in the history of Fisd as it saw the coming in of a technology that is proving a source of hope to agricultural development amid climate change.
Fisd started pioneering solar powered irrigation systems that are not only cost-effective but also efficient. If Malawi is to be food secure, then there is a need to be farming in every season of the year regardless of the prevailing conditions. Many people have argued that solar irrigation systems are not sustainable, but Fisd – Seine-Tech innovations of solar irrigation systems are different from the rest.
While old solar systems can only run solar pumps which are smaller and operate on direct current (DC) only, the solar irrigation systems being fostered by Fisd are not only capable of changing the frequencies of DC to alternate current (AC), but also have the capacity of running heavy duty (large-scale electrical) irrigation pumps. The innovation is simply referred to as 3-Phase High flow solar irrigation system. Recently, Fisd developed a new AC solar system that has the capacity of pumping up to five million litres per day from single pump station.
Thus, apart from small-scale farmers, industrial irrigation schemes also have the opportunity of practising cost effective irrigation system through the use of the 3-phase high flow solar irrigation system.
The contributions of small-scale farmers in the agriculture sector cannot be underestimated. For a nation that has a large number of people living under the poverty line, small-scale farmers are essential in ensuring that the vulnerable societies are food secure.
In an effort to ensure that small-scale farmers also practice irrigation farming using the cost effective and efficient solar irrigation system, Fisd also developed a small-scale solar irrigation system. The small-scale irrigation kit, not only comes with the solar panel and the pump but also a mobile inflated tank that farmers use to store the water for irrigation.
The advantages of Fisd -Seine-Tech solar irrigation are not only based on the efficiency and cost-effective aspects but the systems can also be implemented in any area regardless of the location. Many irrigation systems are possible in areas that are near large water bodies. This limits many from practising irrigation farming.
However, the Fisd innovation offers a solution to such willing farmers as the use of boreholes for pumping water for irrigation becomes not only possible but also relatively effective for farmers living in up lands.