Agriculture employs almost three quarters of Nepal’s population and contributes around one-third to the national GDP. However, the agriculture sector relies predominantly traditional practices and has average yields of major crops that are 20-40% less than neighboring India and China. Less than 5% of smallholder farmers have access to on-demand irrigation and most lack the knowledge of modern and commercial farming. Government attempts to promote solar irrigation and modernize agriculture are primarily subsidy driven, lack adequate participation of private sector and financing institutions. Therefore, interventions to help farmers increase yield and modernize have failed to scale.
Gham Power’s innovation is an integrated service for rural smallholder farmers in Nepal. Collectively called “Yield Improvement in a Box,” the service combines reliable irrigation with affordable and easy financing, a digital ecosystem to enable data-driven project development, and customized agri-advisory for each farmer. Gham Power also makes irrigation accessible and affordable to rural smallholder farmers by providing them with solar water pumps through a network of local partners and agents and with help from our digital platform – Off Grid Bazaar (OGB).
The Gham Power solution has three components:
 Data Driven Farming: OGB’s algorithm uses farmers’ information to customize and design optimally-sized solar water pumps (SWPs) with agri-sensors suited to their farm requirements, and also suggests crop selections that maximize profitability.
 Financial Inclusion: OGB displays farmers’ agricultural, financial, and demographic data which are reviewed as investment opportunities by local microfinance institutions and cooperatives. The microfinance partners provide collateral-free, easy financing for the systems.
 Digitization: Our solution is built around an integrated ecosystem of hardware, software, and mobile applications that deliver clear and tangible value to all stakeholders involved. It helps improve yield and income of the smallholder farmers; increases customer penetration (new/under-served farmers) and loan mobilization at reduced operating costs for the microfinance partners; and increases impact at reduced monitoring costs for the government agencies.
Our solution focuses on 20 districts in the Southern Terai region, which is home to some of the poorest and most underprivileged communities in Nepal. Over 70% of our primary end-users are either women or belong to indigenous/underprivileged communities. Gham Power has a strong focus on gender. Women staff and field agents will receive training, as well as additional income generating opportunities. With most of the male family members working abroad as migrant workers, agriculture is heavily feminized in this region. Therefore, the solution will provide special agricultural training and capacity building, create dedicated resources for marketing and awareness generation, and work with financing partners to offer special financial instruments to make our solution more accessible to women.
Milestones and Achievements
Over the past two years, pilots of the solution involving 200 farmers and 3 partner microfinance institutions have demonstrated up to 80% increase in income, 30% increase in yield and 15% increase in landholding of the farmers. In the meantime, the microfinance partners reduced processing/operational costs by almost 18% and increased loan mobilization on agriculture/renewable energy by over 6 times.
Lessons on Building Successful Social Ventures in Clean Energy (Miller Center)
A Day with Gham Power (Miller Center)
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