There are 5.4 million hectares of arable land in Kenya, but 83% of that land is unsuitable for rain-fed agriculture leaving it in need of irrigation and water pumping technology. Unfortunately, only 4% of the land is currently under irrigation, mainly using diesel, electric or treadle pumps for furrow irrigation. These processes are inefficient, environmentally unfriendly and costly. This trend is not isolated in Kenya, but persists across Africa.
Islamic Relief Kenya is transforming the status quo with its affordable solar-powered drip irrigation technology, AgroSolar Irrigation. This innovation is designed to meet the needs of smallholder farmers and improve productivity and profitability. AgroSolar Irrigation is both low-maintenance and long-lasting, providing farmers with high-value fruits and vegetables for just a fraction of the cost of traditional irrigation technology.
How Does It Work?
AgroSolar Irrigation is a solar powered drip irrigation system built to support the cooperatives in Kenya. Islamic Relief Kenya links potential users to training and financial service providers, who in turn offer loans to cooperative members to acquire the technology. The system is ultra-efficient, saving about 80% of the water used in furrow irrigation, and delivering water and fertilizer directly to crop roots. Farmers can expect yield gains of over 300%.
Utilizing clean energy services over current diesel water pumping practices results in a cost and labor savings of almost $14,000 per acre. This unique business model takes a whole value chain approach to improving upon the fragmented value chain currently found in Kenya and ensures that barriers for smallholder farmers are removed.