March 29, 2016

New treadle pump lease improves irrigation for farmers in South Sudan

Treaddle pump South Sudan
What is a treadle pump? It is a human powered pump which efficiently sucks water from wells to provide simple and effective irrigation. The treadle pump can greatly increase the income that farmers generate from their land, both by extending the traditional growing season and by expanding the types of crops that can be cultivated. With support from SPARK’s Agri-Business Creation (ABC), South Sudan’s Business Support Centre (BSC) is able to offer farmers treadle pump equipment for lease.

Benefits to entrepreneur

South Sudan has good soils but they need regular irrigation because farming is often subject to recurrent production failures due to drought.  Alison, the first beneficiary of the treadle pump leasing programme explains how it has been useful to her: ‘I used to farm a quarter of a feddan of vegetables. However, thanks to SPARK I have planted two feddans of cabbages this dry season and expect to get $1,500 USD as my net profit.’ Improved irrigation means that crops grow faster and more land can be used which is normally left due to the dry season. The result is higher crop yield and thus a greater profit margin. Furthermore the pump is light weight making it more portable while it requires no tools to assemble and is rust resistant.

The pump is ‘human powered’  so there is no need for costly fossil fuels making it cheap and energy efficient, thus increasing the per capita earnings on unit land holdings. A further objective of the lease project is to promote improved management of land and water resources to increase regional food security and environmental sustainability. In this way SPARK and the BSC hope to contribute towards bridging the financial deficits of entrepreneurs for production enhancement inputs acquisition. It also increases youth participation as many find this an accessible form of work in the dry season when irrigation is most needed.


To start the treadle pump you must have at least 1litre of water which must be poured into the pumps cylinder. The user creates pressure by peddling on the treadles which forces the water into the cylinder through the inlet valves and pumps it out through the outlet valves. The pump can be comfortably operated by applying a downward force which should not exceed between 50% and 70% of the users weight. The treadle pump can suck water from a depth of up to 23ft (7m) and has the capacity to irrigate up to 2 acres of land by powering up to 5 sprinklers at a time.


Main beneficiaries

Rural areas especially are the main beneficiaries of the pump because they have a high need for increased productivity as well as more employment opportunities.

As William the South Sudan BSC support officer explains: ‘Basically most of the business plans submitted to SPARK through BSC had a budget for irrigation, initially we attempted buying drip irrigation systems plus generators for our entrepreneurs but the ever rising costs of fuel coupled with the high costs of generator maintenance makes it difficult to sustain. At the BSC we had to find alternative solutions for our farmers/entrepreneurs.’

Manual irrigation equipment can help increase the incomes of some of the worlds’ poorest farmers, however, only if the irrigation technology is affordable. The treadle pumps are being leased cheaply to entrepreneurs. They cost $200 USD and the entrepreneur pays a 30% ($60) down payment then five loan instalments over a period of five months ($28 per month) with a three month grace period. The BSC Team have been promoting the lease at one of the local FM radio stations and have held a talk-shows encouraging interested farmers to come for application at our offices. In total fifteen farmers to date have taken on a lease and are benefiting from improved irrigation.

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