Less than half of Nepal's arable land is irrigated, the rest depends on erratic rains. Lack of investment in irrigation and the shortage of water in the dry season have hindered the spread of irrigation schemes in districts like Bhojpur and the arid areas of western Nepal. But a solution to this may be at hand.
Drip irrigation provides water drop by drop directly to the roots of plants through small pipes, allowing large tracts to be irrigated uniformly even with limited water. The drip lines carry water from a tank to individual plants, creating a capillary effect that enables water flow even at low pressure. The slower but localised infiltration in the plant helps it develop wider roots. The technique also supports better absorption of fertilisers and does not require fields to be leveled for irrigation, saving on labour costs.
"We had tried everything, spending a lot of time and money before we discovered drip irrigation," Bauder explains. "It is a simple gravity operated technique. You don't have to flood an entire field, which saves tremendous amounts of water, and the yield also improves as water is 'spoonfed' to the roots of the plants. This is perfect for Nepali farmers."
Bauder is now working to get neighbouring farmers in Makwanpur to adopt the technique. Madan Gopali invested Rs 25,000 to get the drip system in his field and is waiting for the next harvest to see the results. Says Gopali: "Water is scarce here. With this system I can irrigate the field year round. If I get three yields a year, I will recover my investment in two years."
Rubeena Mahato in Makwanpur