The devastating impact of the drought on crop production in Clarendon has pushed a local businessman to develop a solution which could be a major game changer.
Hopeton Henry has created a 'Smart Free Energy Water Pump System' which, he says, could revolutionise the way crops are irrigated if utilised on a large scale.
According to Henry, the system can irrigate crops without the use of a generator that would require gas or diesel for power. He said the concept came about last year while he was preparing a project for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
"I went to a cassava farm in Summerfield and I noticed there was a lot of idle land with the river about 100 feet from the farm. Despite this, the farmers had to use a diesel generator to pump water from the river for irrigation, and so using all of the land space would not be feasible. So I figured that I could come up with a way to pump water from the river without using gas or electricity," Henry told the Jamaica Observer.
"I did my research and a few experiments and then I realised the drought is upon us and many communities have access to a river, stream, spring or other water source that they could tap into, yet farmers are suffering for water to irrigate their crops," Henry added.
He said he devised a two-in-one system that has the capability to work independently of each other.
"Whatever height the source is from, the ram pump is multiplied by 10 for the output. So, if the input is five feet high from the pump, then 5x10 gives you the output height. It is very effective because it can be used for up to one year before any servicing is required.
"I was born near the Rio Minho and lived about 500 feet from it when I was younger. I always had to be carrying water, and so I always had it in mind that there must be a way to get the water to my home without carrying it physically," said Henry.
He pointed out that the system is designed to operate without supervision once it is installed.
"You don't have to be on your farm to use it because it can be powered using a smart board that is connected to your phone using the Internet. You can use it to turn on the pump to irrigate or fertilise your crops if you choose to, and can be used on up to eight different plots at a time. It's so smart that if it is raining it will not irrigate. Another benefit is that more than one farmer can share the system, so they can take turns irrigating their plots if they are close by," Henry boasted.
"I hope farmers will understand and appreciate the system, and I'm willing to meet with anyone who is willing to work with me to improve their operations. My father was a farmer who worked hard, and if we continue to do things the same old way nothing will change. In the rural parts farmers have access to gullies and [are] not making use of them. So if they are willing to come on board and want to work smarter, and not harder, I can show them how," said Henry, who is a videographer by profession.
He is anticipating that the system, which was on display at the Kellits Investment and Opportunities Fair recently, will make a huge impact on the drought conditions now affecting the island.
"You can manage it from home and you can put recycled water to good use. You can even use it to feed your cattle or water your animal farm, not just crops. It can be used to pull water to your tanks at home, and you can store the water on your roof and supply your house," added Henry.
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