Gham Power has partnered with MFIs to reach farmers in remote areas with low purchasing power and provide them access to affordable and reliable renewable solutions to help tackle the issues of irrigation and use of traditional farming practices with our solar water pumping system and agri-trainings.
In the joyous event of our partnership with two new MFIs: Forward and Nerude, Gham Power put into action its biggest awareness program to date, ‘Gham Power Sinchai Mela’ (Irrigation campaign). This time, we decided to expand our reach to the eastern region of Nepal, planning to visit 12 branches within the 4 districts of Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa and Janakpur. Going into this, we hoped to meet and build relations with the new MFI teams as well as the farmers, and spread awareness about modern irrigation systems that would benefit them.
We are happy to report that the Sinchai Mela was an absolute success despite the many challenges: COVID-19, language barrier, inconvenient conditions and more. This project had been postponed as a result of the lockdown after the second wave of COVID-19. However, Gham Power was determined to conduct the program before the festivities in October. Consequently, the program was held in the midst of the monsoon season.
Traveling during the pandemic especially with the eastern region going through its peak in cases was as difficult to accomplish as you can imagine. Our team completed the project by taking all the necessary safety measures, displaying their unshakable will to change lives. Taking in stride all obstacles such as the need to conduct programs in all manners of strange places, from a goth (stable), a farmer’s home, to the middle of the street. Unfortunately, we were unable to go to two of the places planned owing to an MFI member being found COVID-19 positive in one of the branches of Nerude and Dhulabari experiencing a peak in COVID-19 cases.
Nepal boasts language diversity of up to 122 different languages and so, communication can be quite a challenge at times. Additionally, ninety percent of the MFI members are women who usually do not have access to proper education. Also, some farmers were not aware of modern farming technologies or had to be persuaded towards commercialization. The language barrier was solved by getting a translator and adopting simple language to communicate. The team describes most farmers as being “unaware but curious”: willing to learn and challenge themselves to modernize their practices.
In addition to all of those issues, our team also had to grapple with inconvenient weather conditions and dangerous terrains. Due to the monsoon weather, demonstrating the potential of the Solar Water pumping systems (SWPS) was a bit challenging. Aside from that, there was also the terrain, with roads were slippery, muddy and at risk of landslides. In fact, there was one moment in particular where only one hour after our team managed to cross a bridge at Butha, they heard that there had been a landslide in that exact location which left them an arduous journey back with the water up to their waists.
However, even with all the issues, the project was wrapped up successfully with the team visiting 11 out of the 12 branches, doing demonstrations of the SWPS and agri-advisory sessions with a total of 350 attendees. Gham Power is happy to report that our SWPS has a lot of scope in the region due to the farmers having large land holdings and currently relying on non-renewable, expensive water supply sources such as diesel pumps and canal irrigation.
The Gham Power team are all happy to have been able to get out of the office and the ‘lockdown life’ to travel to new and interesting places and people. We are grateful to the locals and communities that we visited who were helpful, hospitable and always willing to extend their services to make the team’s stay as comfortable and the demonstrations go as smoothly as possible.
Gham Power hopes to be able to supply the farmers with affordable and efficient solar water pumps that will allow them to increase yield and eventually their yearly income. We also offer services to support the farmers while they transition from traditional farming practices to modern technology: agri-training and agri-advisory.
This event has been a testament to our growth as well as our unmatched will to reach and change the lives of as many farmers as we can. Gham Power hopes to continue reaching out to rural communities and taking the lead in digitizing and commercializing Nepal’s agriculture sector with sustainable and renewable solutions.