On the afternoon of 26 November, the lecture theater at Natural Resources College (NRC) was full with irrigation students and their lecturers awaiting a presentation on irrigation technology by Africa Windmill Project staff. The opportunity for the presentation came about after the lecturers visited AWP irrigation demonstration garden and were impressed with the irrigation technology.
NRC offers various courses regarding natural resources and agriculture. The irrigation course is relatively new to the college, having started just a few years ago. With tight budgets and few hands-on opportunities, students only get familiar with irrigation technologies by visiting the much larger agricultural college, Bunda College, or possibly by visiting Ministry of Irrigation sites within a few kilometers radius.
AWP shared with the students how the technologies are developed, the amount of water they pump, the maximum effective acreage for each pump, and the cost. Students gave feedback on the design and implementation of the irrigation schemes. Among many good points, they brought up the potential cultural challenges for women to use a cycling pump. They suggested that we make a few changes that could better accommodate the lady farmer.
At the end of the presentation, the students had a chance to see a pedal pump in action. The pump had to be set up without a well, which led us to pump only a modest one meter of head. Nonetheless, the students were able to ask questions and try out the pump, putting a practical spin on the course material they have been studying.
We hope that the students may have a chance to come out to our demo garden next year to get their hands dirty with their fellow farmers at Mziza.