By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
There has been advocacy to derisk the country’s agricultural sector from rain dependence, with the former Agribank head Sakaria Nghikembua been leading the call.
A local company Water Engineering Africa has taken advantage of the much hailed vast solar radiation in the country to develop a Mobile Solar Powered Water Transfer Pump.
The product, which will be launched in a few days at Ongwediva Trade Fair, has also been showcased at Ohangwena Agri and Food Expo.
In an interview with The Villager, Water Engineering Africa, managing director Tangeni Nghiwelelekwa explained that the concept was started two years ago, and he approached an architect to draw it.
He highlighted that for the last two years, he spent figuring out how they would manufacture a mobile solar-powered water transfer pump with his team.
A month ago, they, however, put a team together to discuss what is required regarding the material for the concept to become a reality.
The team managed to get the required inputs, assembled the solar-powered pump in the country, and translated the design into a finished product that is now ready for the market.
The pump is powered by 320 watts of solar panels that can be swung in the sun’s direction.
Nghiwelelekwa explained that given the cost of a utility in the country, specifically energy/electricity, the solar-powered pump can reduce the variable cost with just a once-off initial investment in the pump.
Moreover, the government has placed agriculture as a strategic sector for economic growth and to improve livelihood. More still needs to be done to make the sector competitive, according to Nghiwelelekwa, especially on modern agricultural equipment and instruments that can assist farmers in producing more efficiently.
Nghiwelelekwa stated that the northern regions have a large number of small-scale farmers, with Omusati region having a vast number of them taking advantage of the canal.
However, the region’s agricultural output is low, and it faces food insecurity during low rainfall seasons despite the canal’s existence.
He said many of the small scales need diesel-powered generators for their pumps or electricity to get water from the canals, however, not many of them have electricity.
Nghiwelelekwa stated that given the abundance of sun’s radiation, the mobile solar-powered water transfer pump could be one of the equipments that can be utilised by the canal-based producers.
He said that given the mobility of the pump, the producers do not install physical structures near the water source, as the pump trailer can be stationed at the water point during the irrigation time.
Beyond the canal, the Omusati Region has also Lake Etaka, which is also surrounded by small-scale farmers.
The country has all-year rivers both on the east, west and far south that can enable all-year production, however, the cost of electricity and diesel in the country has limited such ability.
Over the years, some of the green schemes in the two agricultural regions have been hit by the cost of electricity, resulting in going days without watering their crops as their pump cannot operate.
As for small-scale crop farmers who live by the rivers and aspire to do crop farming, they are limited as they cannot afford water pumps, and if they can, the cost of electricity and diesel to consistently pump water will not enable them.
Various talks at a high level have been happening to derisk the country from rain dependence; however, given the capital outlay, the conversation is yet to materialise.
Private companies are now coming on board, offering various services such as borehole drilling, irrigation installation and various agricultural equipment. Email: email@example.com