Solar pumps bring hope

German-designed solar pumps designed specifically for intensive smallholder agriculture, will help farmers avoid the problems associated with electricity shortages, according to experts.

A solar-powered machine that will address the electricity problems farmers face.
A solar-powered machine that will address the electricity problems farmers face.

First tested in 2007, the submersible machine can pump between 800 to 1,200l of water every hour from a depth of up to 60m.

A Zambezi Power Company official said the pump had two 210 solar panels, a solar control box, submersible pump and cage as its main components.

Prosper Chipoka, a company representative exhibiting the pump at the recent National Association of the Non-Governmental Organisation’s Expo 2013, said alternatives to traditionally generated electricity were necessary because of erratic supplies and rising demand.

Zimbabwe’s power generating capacity has dropped from 2,200 megawatts of electricity to between 1,200 megawatts since independence. Farmers were particularly hard hit, especially in winter and in times of drought.

“After realising many various problems bedevilling the country’s irrigation system in terms of power cuts and irrigation mechanisms, we designed the SSP (a pump) which comes in two types and is cost effective,” said Chipoka. “We have two specifications: a 0,5 hose-power pump which can supply 800l of water per hour from a 40m deep borehole and 0,75 hose-power can pump 1,200 litres of water per hour from a 60m borehole.”

Chipoka said the portable solar powered pumps could be used at night with electricity from batteries. This will work well for small to medium commercial farmers and for domestic use.

The unit has a lifespan of 15 years.

“The 0,5hp pump costs $1,634 and 0,75hp pump $1,858 excluding pipe costs,” he added.

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