Solar irrigation system saves Ex-miner time, money and energy
By Gift Chanda, Communications Officer
Two years ago Daniel Ngosa lost his lucrative mining job on the Copperbelt and bought a small farm in the outskirts of Mufurila town. The 51-year-old, who worked as a metallurgist for 27 years before he was laid off at a height of plummeting metal prices and a mining tax row in 2015, now has a successful horticultural farming business.
In November 2016, Ngosa received a solar-powered irrigation pump from FineCop Enterprises Limited with the support from Musika that he now hopes will give him a much more reliable harvest.
Musika supported the procurement of the irrigation system to help FineCop test the existence of opportunities in the agricultural market in offering the smallholder sector with off-grid solar irrigation systems solutions through knowledge and brand penetration.
“This solar irrigation system has given me confidence to expand my fields,” Ngosa said.
The highly efficient drip irrigation system saves on energy costs, water and has allowed Ngosa to diversify his crops from tomatoes to cabbage, winter maize, right down to running a vegetable nursery that supplies seedlings to other farmers.
Before switching to solar, Ngosa was using a diesel-fuelled drip irrigation system, which made him to incur high fuel and maintenance costs that significantly reduced his profit margins.
Most farmers in Zambia irrigate their land by flooding it from a nearby river or stream, which can erode the soil and deplete its nutrients, but Ngosa’s irrigation kit harvests the sun’s energy to pump water from a steam into an elevated tank. It then uses gravity to release controlled volumes of water through plastic piping, lined with small emitters that regulate the flow to targeted areas. Ngosa says the solar kit is saving time as well as cash, as there is no need to use diesel.
I" t’s a very efficient system. I am able to pump up to 8,000 litres of water per hour and I don’t have to monitor it every time,” he says.
After cutting operational costs by almost 40 per cent, Ngosa encourages fellow farmers to switch to solar irrigation system.
“The benefits will not show today,” he says, “but after six months, they will begin to show because you will stop buying fuel and if you are on the power grid, you will stop paying electricity bills and your maintenance costs on the diesel or petrol pump will be reduced because this system is almost service free.”
At least 60 farmers have so far been to his farm to see how the irrigation system is working for Ngosa with other
expressing great interest in purchasing the system for themselves.
As a non-profit organisation that stimulates and supports private sector investment in the smallholder market, Musika’s role as with all its interventions is to demonstrate the business potential that exists in the smallholder market.