Solar pump owner: Sobarni Kumari Devi
District: Rautahat
VDC: Karkach Karmaiya
Command area 0.85 hectares
Current crops Cereal crops & vegetables
Future plans Expansion of vegetable production
Solar pump installation date March 31st, 2018
“Unlike diesel, solar is a one-time investment with no operating cost.” - Dhenuk Lal Mahato (Sobarni’s Husband)

Meet Dhenuk Lal Mahato, a subsistence farmer from Rautahat. Dhenuk Mahato is currently experiencing the positive effects of a solar powered irrigation system. In an interview he described how solar irrigation has changed his life and how it is shaping his future.  Sobarni Kumari Devi, Dhenuk’s wife, is the owner of the Solar Powered Irrigation Pump. She was offered an additional 10% subsidy because the pump and land is under her name. This discount is offered to female farmers as an incentive to empower women through agriculture. Although Sobarni has the pump in her name, Dhenuk spends the most time operating the system.

Before he described his plans for the future, he talked about his past. He explained that farming is his only means of living and that he has no other livelihood option. Farming is his ancestral profession and has been passed down through generations. He is proud to continue as a farmer even though at times it is hard to stay positive. “I work to earn an income, there can be a good income in agriculture,” Dhenuk Mahato explained. Before he had solar irrigation, he was using a diesel pump to irrigate his land. The pump was expensive and hard to manage. He sometimes had to buy diesel from India at much higher prices. He was desperate for a better alternative when he found out about solar irrigation. The solar powered system seemed to reduce or eliminate all the difficulties he was facing with his diesel pump. He invested in the system and is very grateful that he did.  

With the abundance of water Sobarni is able to cultivate more than enough food for his family. His production has increased significantly, while the amount of effort he needs to put into irrigation has been reduced. He is able to cultivate summer vegetables along with the crops he had previously grown. He has even thought about expanding in the near future. Solar is a modern technology, and he wants to expand further in a mechanized way. He believes that modern practices will save him time and money in the long run, much like solar irrigation is doing now. Above all he explained how much money he has been saving. He no longer has to supply diesel or any form of fuel. He no longer needs to bear the costs of maintenance and transportation. He even estimated that he was saving at least 1,000 rupees each month. This may sound like a small amount, but over time it adds up. Along with the increase in production, he has seen an increase in income.

Dhenuk mentioned that his children have other jobs and will not pursue agriculture. Although his children may not work on the farm, he dreams of educating others about modern farming practices. Many people have already come to view and inquire about his solar irrigation system. He enjoys showing them how much easier the system is to use. He is grateful that he can inspire others to appreciate a system that has had such positive effects on him.