PERFORMANCE AND ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF PUMPED IRRIGATION SYSTEM: A CASE OF SMALLHOLDER HORTICULTURAL FARMERS

  • S. N. Kang’au Biomechanical and Environmental Engineering Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya
  • P. G. Home Biomechanical and Environmental Engineering Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya
  • P. G. Home Biomechanical and Environmental Engineering Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya
  • J. M. Gathenya Biomechanical and Environmental Engineering Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya
Keywords: Pump performance, economic evaluation, pumped irrigation, Kenya

Abstract

The study was carried out with the objectives evaluating the technical performance of the pumps used in
smallholder irrigated agriculture, studying the energy uses during pumping and identifying the possible causes of
inefficient energy use, and evaluating the costs of pumping used during irrigation. Observational study to identify
occurrence of pumped irrigation systems in Kakuzi Division in Thika and Yatta Division in Yatta District was done.
Semi structured questionnaires were administered to 80 respondents in the study areas to investigate the
challenges of pumped irrigation as well as find the socio-economic status of the people and the agricultural
practices carried out. A detailed study was carried out on 10 different pumps during irrigation to evaluate their
efficiency as well as energy uses. The results showed that numerous challenges faced smallholder pumped
irrigation systems some of which are irrigation component selection, design and operation as well as irrigation
water management. 60% of the pumps evaluated operated below the recommended design efficiency. The pumps
further showed different fuel consumption rates, while the cost of fuel used to irrigate an hectare of land varied
for all the 10 pumps assessed. The lowest and highest fuel consuming pump used fuel valued at 350 ksh/ha and
8,426 ksh/ha, respectively. The huge difference is as a result of several factors such as pump consumption rate,
farmer’s irrigation timing among others. The result therefore means that some enterprises made huge profits
while others operated at marginal profits or no profit at all. The results imply that without proper selection of the
irrigation equipments, poor designs as well as lack of operational and management skills, the farming enterprises
can be rendered uneconomical. This calls for embracing of the engineering, agronomic as well as management
techniques at farm level in order to ensure sustainability of irrigated agriculture as well as enhance its economic
viability.

Published
2019-05-16