Tuesday, March 8

We're Here To Pump . . . YOUR Water!

Many Zambian farmers irrigate their fields using a bucket. This means they have to make hundreds of trips from the river (dambo) to their gardens, potentially an all-day affair. According to The Times, International Development Enterprises has started promoting the treadle pump. Available for years, the low-cost irrigation technology for smallholder farmers is becoming increasingly popular, mainly because it is up to 5 times as efficient as the bucket technique.

IDE suggests the pump, at $9, is "accessible to even very poor farmers." Well, yes, at that price the pump is accessible. However, when you factor in the tubing (an additional $25 - $50), we're talking about almost an entire year's income for a typical rural farmer.

Treadle pumps are highly efficient, but considering most farms are not immediately adjacent to a dambo and don't have access to half-a-year's-salary, treadle pumps are still the Corvettes of the subsistence farmer.