The start

In 2019 Jacana SMART Centre started to experiment with affordable direct current pumps . Four pumps were selected after a full year duration test. Solar pumps are powered by solar panels. (see: news post May 2021)solar pumps

The initial idea for a portable solar pump came from rural Zambia: After Jacana trained entrepreneurs in installing solar pumps on boreholes and wells, beneficiaries asked Jacana if the panels could be made so that they could be stored inside the house in the night to avoid theft. This easy fix was quickly followed by a request from a farmer asking if he could carry the pump with panels, pipe and wires to his field. After Jacana made the first simple modification to make the system portable, we discovered that he was not alone. In fact, the word went around and every week some farmers came to the Jacana office paying the full amount for a prototype of the portable solar pump. The demand for portable solar pumps even shortly exceeded the demand for fixed solar pumps.

In the beginning the portable solar pump was partly sponsored in a few villages. In November 2022 Jacana decided to stop sponsoring portable solar pumps completely, because the pump is very affordable and Jacana did not want to damage the Self-supply chain. This decision slowed down the demand during that rainy season. But demand quickly picked up again after harvest, farmers are now happy to pay the full price.

Prototype portable solar pump

Study on portable solar pump

During the last four months of 2023, the University of Wageningen from the Netherlands, supported a study on the Jacana portable solar pump.

Lots of small-scale farmers were visited and interviewed. One of the first obvious observations was that it is a daily routine for farmers to walk far distances to their fields. It became clear that these are not places where you could leave pumps or panels unattended.
The study mapped some practical challenges with the pump.

Visiting farmers with Chongo

At a later stage the major challenges were solved. For example, a simple standard and a manual were designed and an improved water hose was selected.

Test: panels in series / parallel and use of stand over a full day
Presenting and testing the stand and manual at the SMART Market.
Field test of the new stand.

Since the complete pump costs less than $250, the farmer can earn it back within one harvest. There is no need for expensive and/or complicated credit.

In the final phase the study looked at options for scaling and conducted various interviews in Lusaka and Livingstone.

Small-scale farmer Patricia Zulu demonstrates the portable solar pump.


Way forward

Now (Jan 2024) there are 325 small-scale farmers who use affordable solar pumps from Jacana every day, of which 112 have purchased the portable version.

At you will find the most current information with locations and photos of all users.

Partly thanks to this study, Jacana realizes the potential that this affordable and portable solar pump has for small-scale farmers. Jacana is currently working on national scale-up.

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