ACCORDING to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) about 70 percent of the food produced globally comes from small holder farmers yet this group makes up the bulk of the world poor.
One of the greatest obstacles for communal and small scale farmers is their inability to access water year round yet a significant number have access to surface water through dams, stream and shallow wells.
Reliance on rain fed cropping by communal farmers is probably their greatest undoing as they struggle to make a living during droughts, farming is 80 percent water and 20 percent everything else according to Brian Vere of Money Maker.
His organisation which has operated in Zimbabwe for the last three years in partnership with KickStart have provided at affordable prices irrigation pumps that have unlocked profitable business opportunities for millions of small holder farmers across the African continent.
In Zimbabwe the Moneymaker irrigation pumps have become a hit among small holder and communal farmers particularly the horticulture and tobacco growers.
“Our pumps are multi-purpose water conveyance tools which can be used for cropping, livestock brick making and other community projects.
These pumps are the appropriate technology for communal farmers as they draw water from wells, dams, streams etc. Our pumps have weaned them from the bucket system which has constrained them over the years”,
One advantage of the manual irrigation pumps was its affordability as it did not require fuel and electricity to operate which made it desirable to small scale farmers.
Vere said the irrigation pump was cost effective as it was easy to maintain and could easily be set up at water bodies.
He said the irrigation pumps are the appropriate tools for small and communal farmers as they cannot afford the highly mechanised systems and are environmentally friendly.
Currently Moneymaker has three pumps on offer with a range of up to 200 metres.
The tredo max and hip pump both with depth of 7metres while the starter pump has depth of 6metres.
Vere said the pumps are easy to assemble and come with guarantee of one year.
He said farmers in the tobacco growing regions of the country namely Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces have a huge appetite for the manual pumps as they come handy when watering their seed beds.
Also fresh produce farmers have seen the ability of the pumps and are using them to ensure steady supply to the markets all year round. When fresh produce farmers buy the equipment they are able to grow more and the surplus is sold and brings income to homes.
“The manual pumps have a big role to play in the resuscitation of horticulture as smallholder farmers produce the bulk of our fresh produce. Once communal and small farmers are given the appropriate technology and support they can do it in a sustainable, cost effective and efficient way.
Just look at how the tobacco farmers who are predominantly small holder who resuscitated the sector and turned the crop into a major exporter earner and our pumps are part of that success as they mainly used to irrigate the seed beds for tobacco”.
Vere said the pumps could play a role in mitigating the impact of EL-Nino among small holder and communal farmers.
“Any farmer who access to a shallow well or surface water should plant early as we are likely to experience normal to below normal rainfall owing to the EL-Nino, in such a situation wet planting is a must as opposed to dry planting”.
Vere said next year Money maker expected to introduce a portable solar pump on the market to further bolster its product range.
The solar pump will have capacity to pump water 20 meters deep and can easily be carried to the field.