Written by Yamini Cinamon Nair and Alex Raca.
In 2017, Yamini Cinamon Nair, Alex Raca and Alex Vassilev were the first Project Workers to invest in a sprinkler system.
Rwampara Farm Institute in Uganda is the first farm institute EPAfrica has ever partnered with. This presented an exciting opportunity to apply the EPAfrica model in a new context and resulted in the innovative project of an industrial sprinkler irrigation system. Unlike most EPAfrica schools, students at Rwampara Farm Institute aim to complete their National Certificate of Agriculture (NCA), learning how to cultivate crops and maintain livestock.
As part of their NCA course, each student is responsible for four metres squared of land. Prior to EPAfrica investment, students employed flood irrigation, using 20 litre jerrycans to water their crops manually. This is labour-intensive for the students and is a particularly inefficient method of irrigating the crops. In addition, flood irrigation contributes to soil erosion, which holds especially true for Rwampara Farm Institute because it is situated on a steep hill. We therefore decided to invest in the more efficient sprinkler irrigation method.
The industrial sprinkler uses a water pump to channel water at high pressure. Piping from the water pump to the sprinkler reaches 100 metres, before being distributed with a 28-metre radius in a circular motion across the fields. In one session, the sprinkler can irrigate over 2,400 square metres. The system is highly portable, which means it can cover a total of 17,000 square metres, covering crops including bananas, cabbages, eggplants and coffee.
This investment will benefit the students and improve the quality of the land. It will facilitate learning, since students will gain first-hand experience of a more effective irrigation method, thereby covering more of their curriculum. It will also improve student welfare by reducing the amount of time and energy spent irrigating the crops. Finally, the sprinkler will reduce topsoil erosion from flood irrigation, which will in turn reduce soil degradation – a major barrier to sustainable farming in East Africa.
This represents an exciting step for the farm towards agricultural mechanisation. The institute’s management are embracing this opportunity, and the farm staff and students are enthusiastic about using the sprinkler system. By ensuring that we have widespread support from key stakeholders, we aim for this to have a long-lasting positive impact.
We would like to thank all the donors who made this investment possible; in particular, the donors of EPAfrica’s Innovation Fund. The £200 we received made a significant contribution to realising this project. We believe partnering with a farm institute offers a unique scope for such innovative projects. We hope that, as the charity grows, we will be able to apply the EPAfrica model to many more farm institutes.