Agribyte: Motorbike water pumps for cheap irrigation

Motorbikes have the potential to transform farming in Africa. Besides providing cheap transport, you can use motorcycle water pumps for cheap irrigation.  Supplementing water can increase your crop yields, create jobs and reduce hunger in the region. motorcycle water pumps are efficient and cheaper to buy and use than the traditional diesel and petrol generator water pumps.

Motorcycles have transformed many economies in the world. In Kenya, there has been a sales boom of the two-wheeler cycle since 2008. This has brought a significant change in urban and rural transport, youth employment and created many profitable businesses in spare parts, repairs and related services.

How the motorcycle water pumps work

Motorbike water pumps on an exhibit stand
Motorcycle water pumps can pump 22,000-40,000 liters per hour. It can operate for 100 hours.

This innovation dates back in early 2010s with massive use in China and India. However, its adoption in Africa remains relatively low. Besides a bodaboda, you can attach the motorbike water pump to a motor tricycle (tuk-tuk) or a micro cultivator.

The water pump is a lightweight design weighing 1.6 kilograms only. Its dimensions are 210 by 180 by 150 mm. It has an intake and output tubes. It uses a spindle to pump water. Mount it on a motorcycle power take over, commonly known as the engine shaft. It’s quick to assemble it, taking between 6-15 minutes only.

The spindle can attain a speed of 1500-5000 rotations per minute (RPM) when the motorcycle is in an idle run. This will consume fuel of 0.2 to o.4 liters only per hour. This can pump between 22 m3/hour to 40 m3/hour (22,000-40,000 liters per hour). The pump can attain a continuous operating time of 100 hours.

The fuel consumption and volumes of water pumped depend on the slope.  The machine can pump water from a 10 metre deep well and can pump water uphill on a slope of 50 m.

The motorbike irrigation water pump price is Ksh 1600-2700 per piece from Alibaba online shop excluding custom and taxes. . It uses a two-inch, 40ft pipe which cost at Ksh 400 per metre.

Read Also: Agribyte: A Mobile Solar-powered milk chiller.

The Opportunities of using motorbike water pumps

There is a huge potential for promoting this innovation in Kenya. You can use it to pump water for irrigation and applying fertilizers and farm chemicals. Other areas you can use it are firefighting in inaccessible informal settlements. Youth investors can use it to pump water at construction sites and car washes.

  • Job Creation: Motorcycle water pumps will create many business opportunities for the youth in the region. You can import, assemble and sell them. Other business ideas are repair, maintenance and farmer training. 
  •  Food security: A 2016 study shows that drip irrigation can increase crop yields by up to 7 times in Kenya. Given 83% of Kenya’s land is semiarid or Arid Land (ASAL) Motorcycle irrigation water pumps is a cheaper method of small scale ranchers and low-income horticulture farmers.
  • Innovations: Unlike the single-use diesel or petrol generator irrigation pumps that are idle when not in use, a motorcycle water pump is very portable with multipurpose uses. It can fight fires in slums, set car wash machines and generating electricity through small turbines.

Pros and cons of motorbike water pumps

The major advantage of this type of water irrigation pump compared to petrol and diesel ones are as follows

  • Allows you to Pump or spray when the motorcycle is idle.
  • Efficient fuel use since it only needs gas of 0.2-0.4L per hour
  • High water yield or flow rate of above 22- 40 m3 in one hour.
  • It’s made of a material that is convenient, durable and corrosion free

The major con of the motorcycle water pumps is the low demand for irrigation in the country. Many farmers perceive it as more expensive and they lack awareness about the benefits of irrigation technology like improved yields for small farms.

Watch how the motorcycle water pumps work on the You Tube video above

Facts about Irrigation in Kenya

Kenya has an irrigation potential of 539, 000 hectares of land. Around 19 % (105,000 ha) has been developed to date. There is a huge opportunity to develop irrigation through water harvesting, pumping and irrigation infrastructure in the country.  There are many crops large and small-scale farmers can water including vegetables, fruits, pulses, grains, roots and tubers.

Some high-value crops small-scale farmers can farm include tomatoes, cabbages, potatoes, bananas and beans.

Facts about motorbikes in Kenya

Kenya registered over 1.35 million motors in the past decade. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Kenya imported 181, 565 units of Boda Bodas and tuk-tuks in the first nine months of 2019. In 2018, the imports were 143, 966 for a similar period.  The Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya (MAAK) estimate there are around 700,000 commercial motorcycles used as taxis on Kenyan roads.

Most motorcycles cost between Sh. 58, 000 and Sh150, 000. Most financiers have facilitative policies supporting in credit financing.

The high demand, affordability and acceptance of motorcycles in the country provide a basis for introducing and promoting the adoption of the motorcycle powered water pumps.  This will provide a cheaper method for farmers with low income to venture in irrigation. 

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6 Responses

  1. Sterry says:

    I need that motorcycle irrigation pump.

  2. Willam says:

    I am interested to know how it operates. Suppose you post a video of how it works….

  1. March 20, 2021

    […] situation for smallholder farmers. Agribyte will focus on such innovations. They include use of motorcycles powered water pumps for irrigation, ag drones and use of un-manned milk […]

  2. April 5, 2021

    […] is a small motorbike water pump you can attach to the engine shaft of your motorcycle engine. It uses a spindle to rotate blades […]

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