Retired from the Army, he is now solving farmers’ water woes

Retired from the Army, he is now solving farmers’ water woes

After serving the Army for 23 years, Vivek decided to retire early. His calling, which is to innovate devices, he decided would now be used to change lives.

Movement in Vivek’s right hand is severely hampered, though the doctors managed to reattach his arm. Despite the difficulty, Vivek is often seen tinkering with many tools in his workshop. It is from here that he built a low-cost ingenious wind-mill that helped bring a 24-hour power supply to an entire village in Himachal Pradesh. In this high altitude village called Komic, where sub-zero temperatures are a norm, power supply was almost a joke.

He went ahead and experimented with many gadgets that could provide similar solutions – his latest being a solar water pump, that is dramatically changing the lives of farmers.

The lives of farmers depend heavily on the availability of water and power to pump water to their farms. Unreliable and non-existent (in many villages) electric supply lead farmers to depend on diesel pumps.

Unsuitable for land holdings, diesel pumps are unfortunately what most of our farmers have. There is also the recurrent cost of diesel. The environmental footprint is a problem too.

With these constraints, many farmers are unable to get themselves a water pump that will help them irrigate their land – a problem that triggers a series of struggles, including that of abandoning the farmland and moving to cities. Vivek’s aim is to pull farmers out of this misery through his solar water pumps.

He designed and built solar water pumps that are suitable for small land holdings, are portable and have no recurring costs. While a normal diesel pump costs between Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000, and diesel around Rs 50, 000 every year, the cost of Vivek’s solar pump is a one-time investment of Rs One lakh.

Notably, Vivek’s solar pump design grabbed the Greenpeace Innovation Challenge Award in 2013.

At the fields, Vivek has been able to create an impact that he yearned the most for.

Morawane in Maharashtra is a village with no stable electricity supply. Here, a group of eight farmers, who couldn’t afford diesel pumps, installed Vivek’s solar pump last year. They are now are boasting of flourishing farms.

Earlier, they were dependent on monsoon rains and could grow only one crop cycle in a year. With the pump ensuring uninterrupted water supply, the farmers are able to grow multiple crops throughout the year. Since the pump is portable, this group of farmers is able to take the pump to their respective fields and use it as a shared resource. This sharing model has saved them the cost of individually buying diesel pumps.

The solar pump has lifted all their water woes. Like these farmers of Morawane, more than 150 farmers across India and in Nepal are using Vivek’s solar pumps.

Vivek’s pumps have also solved drinking water problems in six villages. In a tribal village called Harichiwadi situated in a hilly terrain in Maharashtra, the women had to walk down the hills to fetch water and walk up the hill with heavy pots on their heads for more than two hours. With the solar pumps installed in the village, the women now do not have to do this arduous task anymore.

“The women are thrilled about this”, says Vivek who is happy that his innovation is touching lives in more ways than one.

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