Focus: Water Resources
With upwards of a billion people across the globe going hungry each day, it’s safe to say that the problem of endemic hunger is no secret. One cause of this hunger, among many, is lack of agricultural production. A proven (and intuitive) way to increase production is through regular watering aided by irrigation, a solution that can increase yields up to five times. Unfortunately, to achieve this goal many technologies depend on fossil fuels, and in certain types of agriculture, up to 13% of fuel consumption goes towards irrigation. So how can we improve agriculture to feed the hungry while not putting further stress on the planet?
A possible answer to this question comes from aQysta, a company based in the Netherlands which operates in Nepal. The founders of aQysta, working out of the Delft University of Technology and the highly successful Yes!Delft incubator, have developed a pump to provide sustainable irrigation to marginalized small farmers in rural Nepal. The pump, named the Barsha after the Nepalese word for rain, is powered not by fossil fuels, but by the very water that it transports. Through this water’s energy alone, it is capable of pumping water up to twenty-five meters vertically at a rate up to one liter per second. Furthermore, the Spartan design requires little maintenance and is therefore cheaper than competitors, while incurring no operating costs. In fact, the Barsha pump is so cheap that it can easily pay for itself within a year and a half through increased yields. To distribute their pumps, aQysta uses local manufacturers to build pumps and hires community representatives to sell and provide maintenance services. Actually installing the pumps is left to customers, though aQysta’s representatives do survey water sources to make sure their customers can properly employ the pump. This decentralized business model ensures high-quality, specified service for customers while spurring sustainable development in areas where aQysta operates.
As of July 2014, aQysta has deployed its first Barsha pump in Nepal. On the path to this milestone, aQysta has joined with partners in the Netherlands and in Nepal to help market and provide greater financial access to pumps via micro-finance. Already, aQysta’s work has earned them a 2012 Philips Innovation Award. With successes like this under their belt, aQysta will work on bringing their product and philosophy to new areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. For aQysta, what works well for the customer also works well for the company, and, just as importantly, for the environment.
Environmental impact: Improved access to water for irrigation and avoided use of fossil fuels, including avoided emission of GHGs and harmful substances
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