Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Day 6: Solar-powered irrigation

Today, we learned about solar-powered irrigation systems at two farms near Jinotega and met some great local families.

In the morning, we set off to meet our contacts in Jinotega, an organization called AVODEC. AVODEC provides help to rural communities in the form of engineering projects like the ones we visited today but also social programs and education initiatives. In return, they ask these communities to contribute membership to their organization so they can continue helping others.

We visited two of AVODEC's projects just outside of Jinotega. One family, that is growing onions this season and grows many other fruits and vegetables throughout the year, was kind enough to demonstrate their solar powered irrigation pump to our group. Their five-meter-high tank of water used solar panels to pump the water to it and then the potential energy stored in the height of the tank to water their crops for three acres around.

In the photo below, Anthony (center) helps us look through a photo book of his family's life before and after the installation of the solar powered irrigation system.

The second farm we visited, that grows beans, had a very similar set up. Their pump was also solar powered, but they used a technique called drip irrigation. They ran piping along their rows of crops with small holes, allowing the crops to be watered in drips. In other forms of irrigation, the fields are often flooded so that the soil is washed away. This type of irrigation preserves the soil.

The second farm let us use the hand pump to fill the tank with water.

Both families were sure to continually express their sincerest thanks to AVODEC. Their projects were a dream come true for these farms. The little irrigation they had previously only allowed them to have two harvests instead of the now four harvests and had to be powered by gasoline, which was very costly. They were also happy to be part of a global call for clean energy.

We stopped for a quick picnic lunch of sandwiches and gatorade between visits.

Number of the Day: 4—The age of our new friend Anthony