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National capacity


Private manufacturing capacity

Import of modern equipment from Asian countries will be comparatively cheaper because of cheap labour and material costs. Though local suppliers are cautious about the quality of Asian products, it is argued that the Asian manufactured goods are able to adhere to the quality standards as seen by the increasing exports of pumps to other countries. The cost of the imported equipment from European countries is 3 to 4 times higher as compared to those from Asian countries.

It is further confirmed that several suppliers are eager to manufacture modern irrigation equipment locally through joint ventures. However, it is expected that incentives, in terms of credit facilities and concessions, to start the joint venture should be provided by the Government. Such joint ventures by local suppliers will help prices further and will also help improve local servicing and repair facilities. Such a venture will also increase employment opportunities of unemployed youth, as well as encourage the emergence of support services such as drilling equipment to complement the pump sector.

Local manufacture and application of modern irrigation technology particularly pumping equipment suffer from a number of drawbacks as it is highly dependent on materials and design transfers from industrialized countries. Often the technologies cannot be disseminated because of complicated designs or associated high costs. In several cases, the designs are too complex for local manufacturers to duplicate and use. Even if duplicated, repair and maintenance may be costly for the smallholders. Hence equipment, if imported should satisfy two objectives: firstly, they should consider the goals of the smallholders, viz., supplemental or full irrigation, and secondly, they should take into account the financial resources of the smallholders, as the majority of them are poor.

Public sector capacity

The Institute for Promotion of Innovations (IPI) at the University of Dar-es-Salaam can be responsible for testing and fixing the required standards for pumps. CARMATEC at Arusha can be responsible for hand and treadle pumps and the Department of Agricultural Engineering and Land Planning at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro can conduct the testing of agricultural machinery, including pumps.


Private manufacturing capacity

Several potential manufacturers and irrigation companies in Lilongwe and Blantyre were contacted. Blueprints of the treadle pump, widely used in Asia, were made available by the consultants to a number of local manufacturers, to determine their capabilities of manufacturing this equipment locally. Cost estimates provided by potential manufacturers ranged from US$ 30 to US$ 50. It is the impression of the consultants that the quotations reflect the normal mark up of over 100 percent, common in this part of the world, due to the high interest rates currently prevailing (45 percent) and the high transportation cost of raw materials. The cost of locally manufactured PVC pipe and fittings is estimated to be US$ 15 for the standard 10 meter well depth. Considering well drilling and pump installation, total cost per unit would be from US$ 80 to US$ 100.

Small enterprises should also be investigated. It is very possible that cottage industry entrepreneurs can produce the pumps at lower prices because of smaller margins. However certain basic constraints exist in manufacturing this pump locally, i.e. newness of this technology to Malawi, high cost of materials, transport and credit for the manufacturing sector, small size of current market due to the farmers' lack of capital, relatively high cost of borehole drilling, lack of competition in irrigation equipment manufacture and current business practices operating at high mark-up of over 100 percent.

To ensure the local manufacturing sustainability the following are required: development of several manufacturers in different parts of the country to ensure competition and availability, development of quality control procedures and standards, increased private and public network to disseminate information and for sale of pumps, development of sales and advertisement materials and training of well drillers.

There are two local PVC pipe manufacturers, one in Lilongwe and the other in Blantyre. These manufacturers can also produce pipes for low-cost drip systems. However modifications are required to substitute the emitters with low-cost devices (spaghetti tubing, etc.).

Discussions with potential sprinkler manufacturers indicated that although foundries are available, the current demand for sprinklers in the country is too small to justify local manufacturing. However there is interest in importing sprinkler kits from Asia and assembling them locally. Such an approach is expected to further reduce the cost of these systems.

The irrigation pumps used in Malawi, are imported from South Africa, Europe and India. Electric motors are imported from Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa. Diesel engines are imported from Europe and India. As an indication of costs, a 5 HP diesel driven pump sells for US$ 1040 and an electric driven pump of the same size US$ 750.

Discussions with irrigation companies and potential manufacturers of pumps, indicate that in view of the small numbers of pumping units currently used, it is not advisable to undertake local manufacture of these items.

Public sector capacity

The DOI has a complement of 17 university graduates, nine of whom have post graduate degrees. Additionally there are 32 irrigation technicians (diploma level) and almost 100 technical assistants (certificate level). Most of this staff were outposted in the eight ADDs and can lead the promotion of irrigation technology and the demonstration of various technologies.

The Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), is the institution establishing national standards and monitoring the quality of products. It has laboratory facilities for developing the standards for manual pumps and providing the necessary quality control. It has also developed standards for PVC and polyethylene pipes and is monitoring the quality of these pipes.

The Malawi Industrial Research and Technology Development Centre (MIRTDC), is another institution which can assist local industry in manufacturing some of the irrigation equipment and technologies under consideration. The Polytechnic of the University of Malawi and the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Bunda Agricultural College can also be involved in studies related to the performance of the potential technologies under local conditions.


Private sector manufacturing capacity

Many potential manufacturers and irrigation companies in Lusaka were contacted. Blueprints of the treadle pumps widely used in Asia were made available by the consultants to a number of local manufacturers to determine their capabilities of manufacturing them locally. One manufacturer has already made a sample treadle pump in plastic. The cost estimates provided by the manufacturers varied from US$ 40 (plastic version) to US$ 132 (sheet metal) per pump. High costs are due to expensive raw materials, higher interest rate as well as high profit margins.

There is no question that pumps can be manufactured in Zambia and at least the plastic/PVC version can be produced at a "reasonable" retail price. The total cost of pump and materials would be under US $ 60 for the 89 mm cylinder version. Since open dug wells are relatively cheap and done by local farmers, the total cost for pump, materials and well should be US$ 80-100. PVC pipe manufacturers in Lusaka could manufacture LDPE and LLDPE pipes from 8 to 100 mm diameter which can be used for low-cost drip system.

The irrigation pumps used in the country are imported mainly from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Europe, India and China. The costs are considered higher. As an indication of cost, a 7 HP diesel pump costs about US$ 2 000 and an electric 2 HP pump costs about US$ 700. The local suppliers have shown keen interest to import equipment from Asian countries and when the demand has improved, they will manufacture locally as a joint venture.

Public sector capacity

The irrigation section at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF), is headed by a chief agricultural specialist who is supported by three principal agricultural specialists at the headquarters. There are about seven technical persons working in each province. Apart from these persons, 29 teams each with one specialist and seven technical persons are placed in different districts. In total, there are about 350 persons working in the section.

The School of Engineering at the University of Zambia has a Department of Agricultural Engineering which offers degree programmes in Agricultural Engineering. The School of Agriculture offers degree programmes in agriculture. The Natural Resources Development College is offering diploma courses in water engineering and also imparts in-service training to the staff of the various departments.

The Chapula Zambia Centre for Horticultural Training at Kalulushi has been conducting irrigation courses for the past several years. The courses cover irrigation methods, water distribution, pumps and pumping station and measurement of water. Small-scale farmers have also received training there. The Technology Development and Advisory Unit, University of Zambia provides technical assistance in testing and re-designing of equipment to suit the Zambian conditions. They have also been involved in testing various hand pumps.


Private sector manufacturing capacity

Manual pumps

Various types of manual pumps exist. The most common is the locally developed "bush pump" which is a deep-set pump. Treadle pumps are known but no one has ever demonstrated and marketed them on a large scale, nor is anyone marketing or manufacturing them on a continuous basis.

Several NGOs are involved with the use of treadle pumps. The Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) has shown them to its clients. CARE is utilizing them in their projects. They use the ATI version which sells for about US$ 175. Since water tables are low (deeper than 6 metres) in most areas and because of the lack of dambo exploitation and the 30 metre prohibition zone near rivers or waterways, the use of the treadle and other low-cost pumps may be much more limited in Zimbabwe. However, there are areas where water tables are appropriate or where irrigation near rivers is possible.

Nevertheless, there may be a place for deep-set pumps and probably a real possibility for drip irrigation. The bush pump costs US$ 1 000-1 500 according to local people in the field. This appears to be the installed rather than the pumphead price which is now selling for US$ 500. The Asian deep-set pump could be considerably cheaper and provide the same capacity

Other pumps and equipment

While most irrigation equipment from pumps to sprinklers to drip irrigation is imported, the local capacity to produce low-cost appropriate technology exists in abundance. There are many companies dealing with irrigation equipment. All are run by Zimbabweans and were established many years ago. These companies are dealing with mainly sprinkler and micro irrigation equipment. The company takes the responsibility for designing, installing and manufacturing the equipment.

Suppliers of irrigation equipment and services are usually companies which design, supply, install and service the equipment. These companies have direct contact with the farmers. Some of these companies also manufacture some of the equipment they supply while others get the equipment from local manufacturers or import. Many suppliers purchase aluminium and PVC pipes from local manufacturers and then fabricate them into end products at their factories. The sprinkler nozzles are also locally fabricated. Most of the components except drippers and lateral lines with inlet drippers are locally made.

Public sector capacity

The Department of AGRITEX has three divisions: Irrigation, Soil and Water Conservation and Agricultural Engineering. At headquarters, the technical and field staff are very competent. There are also field staff based at the provincial and district levels providing extension services in all aspects of irrigation and agriculture.

The Agricultural Development Agency (ADA) helps farmers implement irrigation schemes. The commercial farmers' union and various other commodity associations also help farmers in various activities. There are also other national organizations and institutions which contribute to irrigation technology.

The University of Zimbabwe has a Department of Agricultural Engineering offering degrees in Agricultural Engineering and has a proposal to start training in irrigation at a master's degree level. They also conduct research particularly in the area of drip irrigation with wheat for commercial farmers and low-cost drip systems for smallholders. The Department has 17 qualified persons in various disciplines.

The ZITC at Harare tests irrigation equipment such as pumps, pipes, sprinklers and drippers, providing the means for local companies to provide quality equipment. ZITC also participates in establishing standards for irrigation equipment with the Zimbabwe Standards Association (ZSA).

The Chidrezi Research Station with its two substations conducts irrigation and agricultural research for Area 5 which has the lowest rainfall. Research activities at this station covers agronomy, low-cost irrigation techniques, irrigation of rainfed crops, horticulture and vegetables. The research on subsurface micro irrigation using clay pipes and shallow wells is impressive and will be helpful to the smallholder where water is scarce.

In view of the above, it may be concluded that the national capacity is capable of meeting the challenge of introducing new irrigation technologies with limited technical assistance under the south to south cooperation programme.

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