Farmers whose land is located near one of Nepal’s many rivers may no-longer have to wait for the rain to irrigate their fields. At least not if they can afford a new invention now spreading across the country: the Barsha Pump – which translates into the “Rain Pump”.
When growing up on a small farm in Lalitpur, co-inventor, Pratap Thapa, wished that for irrigation his dad could one day lift water from the river below rather than having to wait for the monsoon. As a young student of engineering, he went on to solve this very problem!
“It’s ironic that almost two-thirds of Nepal’s farms depend on the rains when we are a country of 6,000 rivers”. Pratap Thapa, inventor of the Barsha Pump.
The Barsha Pump is like the wheel on a watermill to look at. It’s an incredibly simple but ingenious machine that requires only limited maintenance and above all runs without fuel or electricity. Put simply, it runs on water!
The pump floats and is fixed in rivers where the water current pushes the blades (or paddles) in the wheel. As the wheel spins, air pressure continuously builds up inside a spiral tube, and this pressure then pushes river water through a pipe and up to 20 meters above the river or to fields over 2 km away!Pratap Thapa made the invention with the help of study mates at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in 2014 and went on to form the company aQysta not only to produce and sell the pump but also to further refine it.
AQysta has already sold 131 pumps in Nepal, used across 30 districts, and the Barsha Pump is spinning in twelve other countries as well! In Nepal, the pump is sold to farmers with subsidies from the government which has reduced the price tag to between 160,000 and 280,000 rs (1,465 to 2,565 USD), depending on the size of the pump.
Farmers are praising the invention where it’s been installed. The ability to irrigate otherwise arid land outside the rainy season, and to do so without having to worry about costly fuel or electricity, spare parts or other maintenance, is indeed a huge advantage which has boosted farmers yields – and income!
Says Arjun Kumar Khatri from the village of Ratomate in Sindhuli district who’s now irrigating land 14 meters above Sun Kosi River: “I didn’t believe a pump could lift water without electricity until I saw one myself. Our lives are transformed.”No wonder the Barsha Pump is also award winning technology. The Barsha Pump won the Siemens Stiftung empowering people award 2016. To be sure, whatever more Pratap Thapa and his team at aQyesta might develop as they continue to refine the pump in response to feedback from farmers, they have already done a huge thing.