The TEAMS program, through United Purpose, introduced solar- and pedal-powered water pumps and other climate-smart agriculture (CSA) irrigation systems in Sussundenga District, Manica Province as part of the technology transfer initiative.

Smallholder farmers are adopting the new technology because it significantly reduces labor while increasing productivity. The farmers who were trained and capacitated in using solar- and pedal-powered water pumps had much to appreciate, since the intensive burden of carrying water buckets up and down the field has been lifted by this innovation. In addition, the water pumps have greatly reduced the plight of women, as so often in the African context the task of watering vegetable crops is part of their traditional duties.

“We have been trained on the best agricultural practices, and we are noticing the changes in the quantities, varieties, and quality of our outputs.”

Mbeu Yakanaka Farmer’s Association irrigating their crops using a pedal-powered water pump. 

United Purpose has trained a total of 3,775 smallholder farmers on how to use and manage new irrigation technologies for farming, water harvesting, and conservation. CSA irrigation innovations have brought about positive results for many farmers, who have testified that the pedal-powered pumps have immensely improved their agricultural productivity and given them the capacity to produce more to sell and not just for their own consumption, as in the previous years.

A total of 72 pedal-powered pumps were made available to 52 farmer associations for use in their technology transfer and training units. According to United Purpose’s field officer, Piedade Domingos Paulo, the idea is to incentivize farmers to buy their own pumps and use them in their fields at home. 

Having witnessed the advantages, Mbeu Yakanaka farmer association in Samora Machel village decided to buy a pedal-powered pump. The association’s president, Viagem Campira, said they are now doing less work since irrigating their carrot, onion, and green pepper with the pedal-powered pumps. Campira added that the adoption of the pedal-powered pumps has aided the shift from growing vegetables for household consumption to a more commercial venture. Mbeu Yakanaka association members are now realizing greater returns from their market gardening enterprise since they can now irrigate a larger land space.

UP field officer demonstrates how to operate a solar-powered pump.
UP field officer demonstrates how to operate a solar-powered pump.

Campira noted those earnings from their products can now be used to reinvest in more advanced irrigation technologies, such as solar-powered pumps. “The training we received from United Purpose on climate-smart agricultural practices, high-yielding seed varieties, fertilizer application, and pedal-powered pumps has greatly increased our income streams and, in turn, our appetite for more land for farming. We are now looking for more areas to rent land as an association, and we are negotiating the lease of over 10 hectares of land for increased harvesting. The manual irrigation pumps have opened our eyes in terms of new farming methods, and apart from that, we are hoping to buy more from the proceeds of our horticulture initiative,” said Campira.

Kurima Kupedza Hurombo farmer association president, Chimoio Joao Tesoura, an agro-dealer, said there had been an increased number of inquiries about the pedal-powered water pump from smallholder farmers in the Matika area. “There are several farmers in Matika who have been asking about the pedal-powered water pump after seeing its efficiency during field demonstrations organized by United Purpose. The local farmers have also made further follow-ups and have been observing the use of the pump by many association members dotted around the district, generating so much enthusiasm, which I am confident will generate more sales,” said Tesoura.

UP field officer hosting a pedal-powered water pump demonstration.

The Kurima Kupedza Hurombo association has already purchased the pedal-powered water pump, which they use when their project-facilitated solar-powered water pump cannot operate due to overcast conditions. The alternative pedal-powered water pump guarantees regular irrigation. According to Tesoura, the solar-powered water pump is very efficient and labor-free. However, it comes at a higher price, and spare parts for repair and maintenance are not readily available or affordable for most smallholder farmers. 

United Purpose field officer Piedade Domingos Paulo, said adoption of the pedal-powered water pump has accelerated because the pump is easy to repair and maintain compared to the solar-powered water pump. In addition, the pedal-powered water pump is widely accepted by farmers due to its easy setup and operation, which simply entails a pedaling effort.

The pedal-powered water pump operates by sucking water into the two cylinders and then pressurizing water up the pipe, sending it through a sprinkler over the crops. The pump’s installation is not fixed, and hence it can be moved around to various parts of the field that need to be irrigated. “The pedal-powered water pump has proved to be durable, functional, portable, and very handy. We are very pleased by the innovation,” said Tesoura.

Members of Agropecuária Mucai Kwaedza in Macate have adopted a different irrigation method. The association is using gravity to channel water from the nearby Muenedze river toward their vegetable garden. 

The association’s president, Antonio Manuel Chapungu, said, “We have been trained on the best agricultural practices, and we are noticing the changes in the quantities, varieties, and quality of our outputs. This is because we were capacitated with knowledge on irrigation systems to irrigate the 9 hectares of land just beyond this plot. Now we will have more products for the market, especially during the rainy season.” Anastacia Zuze echoed the same sentiments, adding that water availability will increase vegetable production and earnings for the association members. CSA irrigation has seen farmers increase their yields for a flourishing number of small vegetable vendors along the road from Sussundenga to Chimoio. These vendors, mainly women, highlight the progress and activities happening in the fields hidden among the mountain of Manica Province.

Women selling their vegetables at a local market in Zembe along the highway to Chimoio.
Women selling their vegetables at a local market in Zembe along the highway to Chimoio.