Co-creation of Affordable and Clean Pumped Irrigation for Smallholders

Lessons from Nepal and Malawi

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Pumped irrigation is a way to improve water control for smallholder farming, hence to intensify its production. In this context, the Dutch company aQysta has developed the Barsha pump (BP), the first-ever commercial version of a hydro-powered pump traditionally referred to as spiral pump. BPs, however, have to deal with several constraints that affect the decision-making and access of smallholders to this as well as other agricultural (water pumping) technologies, thus to their benefits. On this subject, Product Service System (PSS) is a type of business models able to potentially cope with a number of restrictions of different nature (i.e. technical, financial, social). Moreover, if co-created with the feedback of the users, and by addressing contextual tensions of different cases, these models can be substantially richer than their top-down counterparts. From this perspective, six cases of use of BPs have been addressed in Nepal and Malawi, respectively. Both primary and secondary data, which was analyzed qualitatively under the analytic induction approach, was collected through a number of methods: on-site observations, unstructured interviews, structured questionnaires, and Q-methodology. Evidence shows a wide range of (non-)technical facilitating and hampering conditions for the use of the BP, as well as preferences of the smallholders in regards to existing and proposed business model elements. Based on the corresponding analysis, a set of opportunities for an improved BP-based business model – PSS, aiming to fulfil several (and at times opposing) needs, is ultimately proposed in the current paper.