2021: A Family Farm With Solar-Powered Drip Irrigation in La Rinconada, Nicaragua

In 2021 GRID hopes to bring drip irrigation to the Gutierrez family farm in the community of La Rinconada in Jinotega, Nicaragua.

The community of La Rinconada in the department of Jinotega, Nicaragua has 52 families with around 175 total inhabitants who make their living through agriculture and raising cattle. One of these families is lead by Pablo Gutierrez and Daisy Centeno, who produce onions, peppers, tomatoes, beans, corns and other vegetables and fruits with the help of their five children. To sell their crops, the Gutierrez family travels by public transportation for about an hour to get to the nearest markets.

This rural community does have access to electricity, but it is very expensive, especially if a family needs enough to power a pump to irrigate their crops. Many farmers rely on diesel or gasoline-powered motors to pump water to their crops, which is very costly and time consuming for the farmer to travel to obtain fuel. Those who cannot afford a generator irrigate their crops by hauling water in buckets by hand from a well or nearby river. In both cases, watering crops in the dry season is difficult due to the hot climate and lack of water accessibility, limiting the farmer’s annual yield.  

With the installation of a solar-powered water pump, the Gutierrez family will now be able to harness the natural powers of sun and gravity to sufficiently water the entire extent of their farm fields, drip by drip. The solar-powered drip irrigation system that GRID participants will install will provide energy to pump water from a well to a large tank mounted on a tall structure. Then, the force of gravity will distribute the water from the tank to irrigate the crops through a system of pipes. It will be the third drip irrigation system installed for GRID in this community after the farms of Maria Luisa and Freddy Cruz in 2018 and Boanerges and Luisa Cruz in 2016.

With this system, Pablo Gutierrez and Daisy Centeno will reduce their production costs by eliminating the cost to pump water and increase the diversity of the crops they can grow year-round. That, in addition to an increased yield, will increase their income substantially. The extra income will have a significant impact on the family, who plan to use this money to pay school fees and make improvements to their home. Saving money with solar drip irrigation will also improve the family's overall wellbeing. 

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