A recent article from the National Geographic, daily news website highlights technological innovation where it is needed most. In a the small West African country of Benin solar panels have been integrated with drip irrigation to tackle the debilatating problem of food security in that region. Initially the sponsors of the operation, Washington based ‘Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)’ sought to facilitate electricity within rural areas. However the villagers explained that their needs lay in food production as they suffer from arid lands and a lengthy dry season.
Instead of starting with electric light, SELF first developed a plan to install solar irrigation systems, which would allow women’s farming cooperatives to grow fresh vegetables for food and for sale.
Therefore drip irrigation and solar panels were fused to effectively supply water for farming when it is most needed. The program also proved that the meld of such technologies was cost effective and to date has proven to be sustainable.
The villagers are also maintaining the contraption due to its importance to their livelihood. SELF now has plans to expand this technology. Fortunately for us here in the Caribbean we have easy access to diesel and other gas to power irrigation systems of all types. However use of such fuels are not sustainable. Diesel is clearly not an everlasting source of energy.
See the original article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/03/120314-solar-drip-irrigation-in-benin-africa/