There are about 1.34 million diesel-powered irrigation pumps across Bangladesh, mostly for farms beyond the reach of conventional power grids. Most years, they spend about $900 million on diesel to fuel these pumps. That’s a big expense for farmers and the government, which subsidizes the fuel for the country’s economically critical agriculture sector, and diesel’s supply is often unreliable in remote areas.
The relatively small percentage of farmers with electricity-run pumps often face power shortages, forcing them to operate pumps at night when electricity consumption is lower.
In pilot projects, supported by the World Bank’s Second Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED II) project, growing numbers of farmers are installing solar-powered irrigation pumps, which are a more reliable, cleaner and less expensive alternative than diesel and conventionally powered electric pumps. Each solar pump can supply electricity for three crop irrigations on 20 acres of land.