Reeep Annual
Report 2022
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Solar Irrigation in Kenya

The majority of Kenya’s smallholder farmers largely rely on rainfall to irrigate their crops, as only six percent of farmland in the country is irrigated. Futurepump manufactures and sell a range of products that meet their needs.

The challenge

As the population grows and the climate changes, these farmers will need to meet the growing demand for food while building their resilience to changes in rainfall patterns. Irrigation can provide this resilience while increasing farmers’ incomes, as it allows for growing high-value, nutritious vegetables such as tomatoes and cabbage. The expansion of irrigation capacity in Kenya has thus far been dominated by traditional pumps powered by diesel or petrol. These cause pollution and leave farmers vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of fuel. Irrigation in general – and Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (or SPIS) in particular – can provide substantial benefits to local prosperity in regions that adopt them. The most direct benefit is the increased revenue and income that comes with the greater yields of irrigated cropland vis-à-vis rain-fed land. Stable water supplies allow additional growing seasons per year, massively increasing output.

Drip irrigation (a central, although not unique, element of SPIS), leads to substantial water savings compared to current practices, and improves crop quality thanks to a more stable supply, often improving real yields by over 300% . In addition, SPIS offer significant cost savings over time on labour, fuel and fertilizer, a total value to smallholder farmers estimated at around $14,000 per acre annually. Economically, the benefits of increased use of SPIS translate into local opportunities beyond the agricultural boundaries, as small businesses arise to meet demand in manufacture, assembly, repair and sales of SPIS.


A Sunflower solar powered irrigation pump.

Credit: Futurepump

Futurepump has developed a new model to enable smallholder farmers in Kenya to adopt sustainable irrigation solutions with a proprietary solar-powered irrigation pump, combined with an end-user finance programme that allows for flexible payments at a time when the farmer is gaining the economic benefits from irrigating their lands.

With this innovative model, Futurepump is able to reach even very low-income farmers with less than one acre of land – which constitute the majority of the agricultural sector in Kenya. By addressing a key barrier in up-front cost and targeting the market segment accounting for the majority of production (yet is most difficult to reach via conventional sales models), Futurepump’s model holds great potential for transforming the sector in the country.

During REEEP’s engagement with Futurepump in 2013, they were in their early-stage development of field testing, setting up their manufacturing and learning about the product market. Since then, they have gradually grown and are in the scaling-up process. Now with over a decade of experience, Futurepump is at the stage where they manufacture and sell a range of products that meet the needs of small-scale farmers.

Water flows freely from one of Futurepump’s solar-powered irrigation pumps.

Credit: Futurepump

“REEEP’s funding for us came at a critical early stage for our business, allowing us to begin the manufacturing process, find out where we wanted to be manufacturing and start it out, and scale up our field trials, which both the field testing and manufacturing form the basis of what we still do today”, shares Helen Yapp, Marketing and Communications Manager at Futurepump.

Futurepump was a part of REEEP’s 10th Call which helped them test finance plans and decide whether they wanted to be financing their products or focus on manufacturing. Through our support, they had the opportunity to discover their strengths and hone their optimal business model.

“We had a lot of different options and ways we could have taken the business – it could have been that we were trying to do too many things at once. With the funding from REEEP, we were able to test this and focus on what we have now scaled into the business today”, says Helen. The outcome showed that they would rather focus on their expertise in manufacturing and work with partners in the financing and distribution of the products.

Futurepump is now selling pumps globally through over 28 different distributors, including in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia. These distributors have networks of stores nationwide across the countries of operation, bringing Futurepump’s solar irrigation pumps to hundreds to thousands of farming communities. Due to the direct link to the factory, Futurepump is constantly gathering feedback from customers and distributors and is able to make necessary improvements quickly.

The next step for Futurepump is to show that a business in the productive asset and renewables sector can break even and sustain itself financially. They are looking to expand their product range by bringing in both bigger and smaller pumps. Helen explains further, “The bigger pumps are to continue the mission of ridding the world of petrol/diesel-powered pumps. Smaller pumps are more affordable and support the mission to get irrigation to even more low-income customers”.

Where Are They Now?


iin 20xx REEEP produced a brochure on how solar pumps can improve lives and livelihoods in rural Kenya featuring Futurepump.