In the hot, dry regions of West Africa, small-scale farmers may spend as many as five hours a day hauling water in calabashes (hollowed, dried out squashes) or plastic buckets to irrigate their crops. But now farmers can make more money without breaking their backs, thanks to “Affordable Micro-Irrigation for Vegetable Production in West Africa,” an initiative of the AVRDC-World Vegetable Centre with support from the Taiwan Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Known in Mali as “nafasoro,” the MoneyMaker pump, developed by KickStart, is one of the more widely adopted tools in the region. The pumps are available in two models: a pedal pump, the Super MoneyMaker, which costs 49,500 cfa [US$ 93], and a manual pump, the MoneyMaker Hip Pump, which costs 22,000 cfa [US$ 37].
“[Kickstart’s pump] has very good prospects for riverbank vegetable gardening and irrigating vegetables even about 75-80 meters from river sources,” said Dr. Madhu Bhattarai, an agricultural economist at AVRDC.
Super MoneyMaker Pump
The Super MoneyMaker Pressure Pump was launched in October 1998, in response to a demand by farmers for a pump that can push water uphill as well as simply pulling it up from the source. This means it is suitable for use on steeply sloping land where the water source may be at the bottom. Thousands use it to pump water from hand-dug wells, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. It is ideal for sprinkler irrigation, filling overhead water tanks, or for use with nozzles and sprays attached to the end of the delivery hose. The pump can draw water up from 7 metres and has a total pumping head of 14 metres. It can be used to irrigate up to 2 acres [8,000 square metres] of land. KickStart says it has sold over 114,000 Super MoneyMaker Pumps to date.
MoneyMaker Hip Pump
Kickstart developed the MoneyMaker Hip Pump to create a lower cost and lighter weight, portable pump. It debuted in stores in 2006. Sales and marketing efforts began in 2008. The pump is very light (only 4.5 kg or less) and can irrigate an acre. According to Kickstart it has a “super efficient valve box” and a simple pivot hinge
By attaching a “Hand Pump” to a hinged platform, it allows users to use their leg, body weight, and momentum, rather than the small muscles of the upper back and shoulders. The pump can irrigate an acre [4,000 square metres] or more.
To encourage farmers from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Ghana to adopt better crop management practices, AVRDC started holding training workshops for farmers and communities in December 2009. These workshops focus on explaining irrigation systems, such as the KickStart pump, and better water management.
In Mali, where AVRDC worked with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to demonstrate technologies, more than 6,000 pumps were sold and 5,000 enterprises were created. Farmers have become actively involved in testing and adapting equipment for their vegetable gardens. Currently, more than 150 women farmers are growing vegetables using affordable micro-irrigation methods, including drip irrigation kits, pedal pumps, and microsprinklers.
Investing in micro-irrigation technologies may seem daunting for small-scale farmers, but the venture has proved to bring a reliable return on investment. Mahmoud Guindo, a farmer in Mali, doubled his annual income selling fruits and vegetables after purchasing the MoneyMaker irrigation pump. In addition to being able to irrigate crops more easily, farmers like Mahmoud can now expand their planting area of high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables and cultivate several crops year-round, yielding a steadier, higher income.
To learn more about ways that irrigation technologies are helping small-scale farmers improve their incomes and livelihoods, see Innovation of the Week: Slow and Steady Irrigation Wins the Race, Getting Water to Crops, and Access to Water Improves Quality of Life for Women and Children.
To learn more about MoneyMaker Irrigation Pumps see Kickstart’s brochure.
Source: Alex Tung, Nourishing the Planet, 29 Jun 2010