Solar pump owner: Sarswati Devi Mahato
District: Rautahat
VDC: Bhasedwa
Command area 0.6 hectares
Current crops Cereal crops
Future plans Vegetable production
Solar pump installation date March 29th, 2018
“Now that we have reliable access to water, I think we will be able to to have two or three cropping seasons.” – Sarswati Devi Mahato

Solar powered irrigation has raised Sarswati Devi Mahato’s hopes for the future of her family and their farm. The system has only been installed for a few months, but the family is already witnessing big changes in their everyday life. Panna Lal Mahato and Sarswati’s spends most of their day working on the farm. As the solar pump and farmland is in Sarswati’s name, the family was able to receive an additional 10% subsidy on the solar pump. This is offered to women farmers who have the pump and land under their name. The discount serves as an incentive to empower female farmers through agriculture and improved access to water. During our interview, Sarswati mentioned how their access to water had improved within just a few months of installing the system. This has inspired the family to expand their farm and practices in more ways than one in the future.

The farming profession has been passed down through generations in the Mahato family. Farming is now their only source of livelihood; the family has no other occupation. Asked why they have continued the practice, Panna said that he took up farming as he did not receive any formal education: “I have been farming for many years. I cannot change (professions) as I don’t know how to read or write.” This makes the success of their farm all the more important. With fourteen members in the family, they cannot afford to have unsuccessful yields. Solar irrigation is alleviating some of the pressure they face. 

Solar irrigation is reliable, easy to use, and affordable. Before the installation of solar irrigation, the family was growing a sufficient amount of food, but their growing seasons were limited. Now they are keen to expand their farm in the near future. The family wants to continue cultivating paddy and maize, but having gained reliable access to water, they have other big plans. They hope to own more land and start a commercial vegetable farm. What seemed like a distant dream has become a real possibility with the arrival of solar irrigation.

Earlier when they used a diesel pump, the family struggled to meet fuel and maintenance costs. The farm requires a lot of attention and maintaining a diesel pump is a complicated and strenuous task. The women of the family could barely help on the farm because they lacked the know-how to operate the diesel pump. However, solar is quite the opposite. Even children find it incredibly easy to operate. Now the whole family supports the farm. Another expensive side effect of using a diesel pump was the cost of diesel, which only seemed to increase. Solar is providing the family with an affordable alternative – a one-time investment with no maintenance cost, no labour cost, and no fuel cost. The family is confident that they will cover their initial investment once their vegetable farm is in full swing. 

The family is very satisfied with their solar powered irrigation system, and has been sharing this with the community. Many neighbours from the area, as well as people from other VDCs have come to watch how the system operates. Even the mayor made a trip to their farm to witness solar irrigation. 

Solar irrigation has given the Mahato family hope for the future and the freedom to expand their practices. The success of the Mahato farm is inspiring others in the area. Solar irrigation is a highly innovative solution to some of the most common problems faced by subsistence farmers. It is helping secure a bright future for smallholder farmers.