Solar-powered Lift Irrigation System
The project is based in the village of Chandrapur, in Jharkhand, India and aims to encourage smallholder farmers to switch from rain-fed paddy production to vegetable cultivation thanks to the installation of a solar-powered lift irrigation system. The project, supported by Syngenta India Limited and the Syngenta Foundation India works with a farmers group called the Five Brothers Irrigation Committee, consisting of 23 members with a collective irrigated area of 10.65 acres.
The project takes place in a small region of India; the village is home to 554 inhabitants with a total of 289 hectares of cultivated area. Before our intervention, farmers growing vegetables could not rely on a performing irrigation scheme, which operated with a diesel pump. Indeed, because of a lack of diesel availability and the high cost attached to it, farmers could not support the irrigation requirements of their crop. They preferred to focus on rain-fed paddy production instead.
To overcome these challenges, the Syngenta Foundation India (SFI) in partnership with Syngenta India Limited (SIL) decided to provide economic support to a group of farmers called the Five Brothers Irrigation Committee (Panch Bandhu Sinchai Samiti) with the installation of a solar-powered lift irrigation system. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility program, SIL covered 60% of the project cost, while the farmers funded the rest. Thanks to the new irrigation system, in 2018 the group of farmers started to produce vegetables, which are more profitable. SFI provides technical support and crop advisory to help them select the most suitable crops.
The goal of this project is to offer sustainable solutions through new technology in order to encourage farmers to diversify by growing vegetables and to thus increase their income and livelihoods. By March 2019, SFI and SIL plan on installing over 40 solar-powered lift irrigation systems across India. Creating links with local NGOs is also key to increase irrigated areas to other groups of farmers.
The cost of the project includes the solar panel, surface centrifugal pump and protection system, which amounts to INR 502,189. The farmers invested 40% of the cost (INR 200,000) and Syngenta India Limited provided the remaining 60% (INR 302,189). Thus, the cost for farmers was only INR 188 per unit decimal of cultivated land.
The main achievement made so far relates to the statistical rise of farmer incomes once they adopt the new irrigation method. Incomes often range from INR 35,000 to 40,000, and some farmers can now even earn up to an average expected income of INR 80,000 per annum. Thanks to the implementation of this solar-powered lift irrigation system, the group of farmers can save around INR 60,000 per season on their fuel expenditures.
Table1: Comparative analysis of vegetables production in Chandrapur
January to June 2017
(Before implementation of solar-powered lift irrigation system)
January to June 2018
(After implementation of solar-powered lift irrigation system)
# of farmers producing vegetables
Net area for vegetables production (in acre)
Average operational cost per acre
INR 12,509 (USD 181)
INR 7,859 (USD 113)
Productivity of vegetables per acre
Net income per acre
INR 22,633 (USD 328)
INR 36,204 (USD 524)
Net income per farmer
INR 9,053 (USD 131)
INR 16,764 (USD 243)