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Treadle Pump- IDEI
International Development Enterprises (India)-IDEI is a not-for-profit registered U/s 25 of Companies Act. Over the last two decades, IDEI has promoted the Treadle Pump. The treadle pump is an affordable irrigation technology that enables a smallholder farmer to not just buy it but also use it and overcome the primary/ entry level barrier of accessing water for irrigation and therefore year round cultivation. IDEI has successfully promoted it with over 870, 000 smallholder households (over 4.5 million people) who have already adopted the treadle pump. IDEI works on the market based approach and establishes private (non-exclusive) supply chain comprising of manufacturers, dealers and installers who manufacture, sell and install the treadle pump. The supply chain members are trained, licensed and supported & quality checked by IDEI. Simultaneously IDEI generates awareness about the treadle pump amongst the farmers by using innovative static and dynamic promotional activities such as leaflets, wall paintings, banners, demonstration plots, farmers exposure visits, farmer meetings etc. These allow the farmers to see and make clarifications on the use and effectiveness of the technology and therefore decide to buy the pump. By using the pump, user farmer generates $400 as net additional income annually and year on year. This disposable income is put to multiple uses including better nutrition, ploughing back into agriculture, debt repayments, children education, asset creation, accessing health services and others.
IDEI’s work and impact has been recognised by Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, Zayed Future Energy Prize, The Tech Museum, Schwab Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs, Skoll Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Award, The Templeton Freedom Prize Award, Global Development Network, The World Technology Network and Ashoka Changemakers Award.
Considering that over 70% of India’s population is rural and 70% of rural are smallholder farmers typically owning & cultivating less than a hectare of land, it was rational to target and empower them to take the lead. However, unable to afford expensive conventional irrigation technologies and almost absence of small plot technologies, smallholders are restricted to limited rain-fed farming, resulting in poor food/income security. The Green Revolution bypassed smallholders, reaching only large landholders with capital to access large-scale irrigation and mechanized farming. This boosted development & promotion of irrigation technologies but only for large farmers. Large looming numbers compelled IDEI team to focus itself entirely on smallholders.
Food security has always been a major concern for India. Hunger and malnutrition was and continues to plague millions of people. More than 50 per cent of the children in rural areas suffer from malnourishment; with 21 per cent suffering from severe malnutrition. This could be linked with low incomes & therefore low affordability.
The treadle pump was discovered by IDEI and after years of research and development and several on-field testing was commercially launched by IDEI. It has been adopted by over 870, 000 farmer households (4.5 Million people). Their ability to engage in cultivation for three additional seasons throughout the year helps them generate USD 400 as net additional annual income. Also, increased agricultural production is helping farmers put more food on the table, decrease hunger and bring food security.
- Treadle Pump is nothing short of miracle to smallholder farmers. “A little hen that lays golden eggs”!
- Treadle pump is a foot operated suction pump for lifting ground/ surface water aptly designed for smallholder irrigation requirements
- It is best suited to irrigate about one acre of land (smallholder farmers in India own less than this)
- Average water discharge is about 4,000 litres/ hour to a maximum depth of 8 meters. Farmers on an average pump 6-7 hours a day to irrigate their field
- Marketing of the pump is under the “KB” Krishak Bandhu (Farmers Friend) brand name
- It is an easy to use and gender friendly technology that is operated by both men and women farmers easily
- It is an environment friendly manually operated technology
- Most farmers pay upfront cost for the purchase of treadle pump
- Foot operation over hands makes it least fatiguing when compared with other traditional devices.
- It enables farmers to irrigate their lands throughout the year thereby helping them overcome monsoon dependent cultivation
- Treadle pumps are promoted using the unique market based approach
- With less than $50 investment, farmers own an irrigation technology that lasts 8-10 years and empowers them to become successful entrepreneurs
- Intensive promotional activities have led to 871, 759 smallholder households adopting the pump
More about the Treadle Pump:
The treadle pump is an innovative twin-cylinder water-lifting device especially designed for small plot agriculture. The treadle pump is a foot operated device, therefore operated manually by manipulating body weight on two treadles to pump water from shallow aquifers. The average discharge of water ranges from 4,000-4,500 litres per hour to a maximum depth of 7 meters. It is best suited to irrigate about one acre of land (less that which is usually owned by small holder farmers in India). Water application rate is 1.2 mm/hr per acre of land (illustration attached below).
Over the years IDEI has researched and developed variants of the treadle pump. These have been developed in response to the farmer needs. In addition to the treadle pump that lifts ground water, there are several parts in the country with abundance of surface water in the form of ponds, dug wells, accumulation of rain water etc. To enable farmers tap into these water resources IDEI came up with the surface treadle pump (STP). Further, in the coastal region, high moisture content rusts the metal, therefore IDEI came up with the concrete pump (with major part made of cement) and treadles of wood. The variants of treadle pump include the following:
Since IDEI is focussed on providing irrigation solutions to small holder farmers, it is imperative that the products developed and sold be affordable. The cost of the pump ranges from USD 13 to 40; which is easily afforded by the small holder farmers. Mostly prospective farmers use their savings to install the pump on their farms.
The treadle pump can be used to irrigate land and grow all crops. Use of the treadle pump enables the smallholder farmer to cultivate crops throughout the year i.e. in addition to growing paddy during the monsoons the farmers can irrigate their land during the months of summer and winter. This allows the farmers to build food security for their families and with the sale of surplus yield in the market the farmers are able to increase their income and therefore become economically secured.
Given the farming practices in India, in addition to the farmer, the entire family is engaged in the irrigation activities. The treadle pump is an easy to use, gender friendly technology. Therefore, both the man and the woman in the family pedal the pump to irrigate their land. By pedalling for about 4-5 hours each day farmers can easily irrigate their land.
The direct users of the technology, the smallholder farmers and his/her family are the direct beneficiaries of the technology. Every user of the treadle pump definitely makes net additional income of USD 400 per year. This income increase makes them economically secured. The money generated is put to several uses, this includes, educating the children, renovating/painting their houses, purchasing livestock, accessing health facilities etc. Basically with the use of pump smallholder farmers are able to generate additional income which becomes available at their disposal.
The user farmers are spread all over the country but primarily along the eastern and north eastern part as these parts of the country enjoy a decent water table and therefore water can easily be lifted and used for irrigation with simple technologies like treadle pump.
- With the use of treadle pump the user is able to earn USD400 additional net income. They use this money to educate their children, renovate their dilapidated houses, access health facilities and build other assets.
- Disposable incomes allow enable farmers to include vegetables, milk and other food items on a daily basis ensures intake of a healthy balanced diet
- Replaces the use of conventional diesel pumps thereby saving diesel and contributing to carbon emission reduction
- TUV Nord has verified greenhouse gas savings from avoided diesel as 0.477 tonnes/ year CO2 per pump
- With use of treadle pump the smallholder farmers become secured economically and food wise.