Feature: Solar power pumps empower Afghan farmers to irrigate deserts

2021-05-26 12:35:47 GMT2021-05-26 20:35:47(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Abdul Haleem

SHIBERGHAN, Afghanistan, May 26 (Xinhua) -- "Thanks to the technology, it enables us to utilize solar-powered water pumps to irrigate deserts and cultivate more crops to increase our income," Afghan farmer Hazratullah Amiri said in talks with Xinhua recently.

Growing wheat, grape, melon and watermelon in his land, 34-year-old Amiri said joyfully that easy access to solar panels and its reasonable price had enabled him to irrigate more lands in a desert, some 20 km outside Jawzajn provincial capital Shiberghan city.

"I have irrigated 150 acres of land through using solar-powered water pump over the past couple of years and my income has been on constant rise," Amiri spoke happily.

"My agriculture and vineyard products have been on rising and so far this year, the products show 80 percent increase against 30 percent against corresponding period last year," the farmer said without revealing his annual income.

The prolonged war has badly damaged the agriculture in Afghanistan as many water canals, farmlands, vineyards and gardens have been destroyed or contaminated with mines and explosive devices planted by warring sides.

Although the government has been working on reconstructing or building new water canals to irrigate farmlands in the war-ravaged country, the continued militancy has undermined the reconstruction process, another farmer Hasibullah said.

"I irrigated 46 acres of land with the help of solar-powered water pump three years ago and since then I have been growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as strawberry and lady's finger to increase my income and improve my living conditions," 28-year-old farmer Hasib said.

Recalling his memories from the past three years, the joyful Hasib said that the area was a desert three years ago, but gradually, it has been changed with the help of solar-powered water pumps, and more crops and plants are growing in the lands and gardens.

Hundreds of hectares of land have been irrigated in deserts located outside Shiberghan city, Hasib said, adding that more lands would be irrigated in the years ahead to develop local products if peace returns.

"A few years ago it was a dream for everyone to plant crops and grow gardens here but today it is a fact that the deserts have been changed into a green area due to people work for achieving better environment and better living condition," the hardworking farmers suggested.

Praising the locals' initiative for turning deserts into farmland, head of the Agricultural Department for Jawzjan province Assadullah Stigh told Xinhua that the government would continue to support the farmers to plant more local products.

The official, however, expressed concern over receding underground water due to using water pumps, and that the farmers have no choice but to irrigate their lands to earn a livelihood as militancy and skirmishes continue to batter the country. Enditem