Climate-Smart Initiatives in Sri Lankan Agriculture Sector: Experience and Perspectives in Solar Powered Water Pumping for Sustainable Crop Production
Keywords:water pumping; solar energy; diesel fuel; economic and environmental feasibility
The availability of low cost and long-lasting water pumping technology is a dream of every farmer. In Sri Lanka, fuel or electricity-powered water pumps are used to irrigate thousands of hectares of field crops, Vegetables, and fruits. Based on the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) survey conducted in the year 2000, there are about 50,000 agro-wells in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. More than 110,000 pumps are used to pump water from those wells. The fuel cost is the biggest burden for the farmers, which results in a high cost of production. The use of solar energy for water pumping is a promising alternative to conventional electricity and fuel-based water pumping systems. Solar-powered water pumping is based on photovoltaic (PV) technology that converts solar energy into electrical energy to run a DC or AC type water pump. This paper presents a comparative analysis of economic and environmental benefits associated with solar water pumping systems against fuel-based water pumping systems. The analyses were based on practical experience over 50 acres of land cultivated for export-oriented Green Cucumber by 100 members of Tempitiya Farmer Organization in Ampara District of Sri Lanka. It concluded that the solar water pumping system is advantageous compared to a fuel-based pump in terms of economic and environmental aspects.
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