Adebo’s solar water pump initiative helps Obongi’s farmers’ fields to flourish 

Adebo’s solar water pump initiative helps Obongi’s farmers’ fields to flourish 

Cosmas Adebo hails from Yakinemiji, a small fishing village along the River Nile in Obongi District, West Nile region.  Here, fishermen begin their days before sunrise to set up their nets for the best catch. 

But for a village that has for long heavily been dependent on fishing to make a living; some of the fishermen are now facing grim prospects with dwindling fish harvests in quality and quantity because of an increased number of fishermen, and influx of refugees. 

Even women dealing in selling fish in nearby markets have been affected with a trickle down effect on their incomes. 

Obongi is among the few Ugandan districts where the refugee population has surpassed the local host population causing immense pressure on land and public facilities. In 

fact, to put it to perspective, the district has a population of 178,264 people, with 126,964 being refugees, and only 51,300 as the local host population. 

Four years ago, Adebo had hindsight to a looming problem, he set out to help his district transition from fishing as the main economic activity to sustainable farming; all he wanted was to boost farmers’ yields and incomes through provision of agricultural inputs such as seeds, tools and extension services. 

With vast chunks of available land to practice other agronomic practices, he knew it was possible, and eventually the local masses embraced farming. However, the West Nile sub region has faced one long standing problem of prolonged drought, which, in some seasons, can wipe out farmers’ crops. 

To solve the problem of changing rain patterns, Adebo devised a solution of providing solar powered irrigation systems at a cost to the farmers. The abundant sunshine in the West Nile region was a blessing to Adebo’s initiative, providing the much-needed solar energy to power the solar irrigation machines. 

“At first, it was expensive, yet many smallholder farmers wanted to irrigate their farmlands,” he says. 

Adebo decided to introduce solar irrigation systems to the farmers which are charged according to the size of the land as a means of making it affordable. 

“We provide them with the systems and then train them on how to use and irrigate their farmlands in support of a staff on ground,” he says. 

Adebo provides the service at a rate of UGX 20,000 per acre and on average, and he’s able to irrigate fourteen acres of land translating to UGX 280,000 per day 

Impact of Innovation Village   

The 26- year- old who now runs his own company, Tryphosa Investment Limited, credits the Innovation Village for his field skills and expertise in solar irrigation which he acquired at the start of 2023. 

Adebo was among the few young, selected youths to attend the AgriSolar Product Accelerator program, a 13-week intensive product development and refinement journey designed for solution providers building use cases and incorporating Solar Technologies across the Agriculture value chains of Diary, Aquaculture and Horticulture. 
The purpose is to empower solution providers with the tools and skills that they need to scale their solutions.   

Innovation Village partnered with Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to implement the Innovative Financing for Local AgriSolar Entrepreneurs Program. The program aims to identify and scale innovative financing models to increase the adoption and use of solar technologies, initially focusing on the Dairy, Aquaculture and Horticulture value chains.   

Now in its second year, the program aims to mainstream use of solar technologies in agriculture by supporting solution providers to identify, validate, test and scale unique financing models. It is expected to result in over 100 solutions being adopted and 10,000 jobs created across the various AgriSolar value chains. 

Indeed, a change in his irrigation pricing model to a per- acre model has paid off, which he credits to knowledge acquired from the AgriSolar program.   

 Adebo’s company currently serves 25% of the smallholder farmers in Obongi reaching over 4,830 smallholder farmers in 2020. 

This has been made possible through a partnership with Obongo district on the Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) to support 17 farmer groups of refugees and host communities consisting of 30 members per group.   

He employs four workers to install, repair and maintain the systems. 

During his training at Innovation Village, Adebo was able to network and form a partnership with Jude Kigozi, the proprietor of LUK SOLAR, a last-mile distributor of solar solutions, specializing in designing and providing solar technologies for off-grid communities. 

Adebo says this has made it possible for farmers to access solar lights and phone charging systems at cheaper prices for a district that is yet to access electricity. 

“We plan to reach the bigger market of West Nile that has a population of 2.9 million (about the population of Connecticut) people (approximately 500,000 households) and about one million refugees from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo,” he says. 

The youthful entrepreneur also has bigger plans to establish a one stop farm center in the refugee camp where smallholder farmers can access quality Agro Inputs due to a high demand. 

For more farmer education, we plan to strengthen our extension system to enable us to reach more farmers by establishing demonstration farms. 


Adebo’s initiative has paid off and has observed the smallholder farmers’ produce steadily increase which in turn has improved on food security. The surplus is sold to improve farmers’ household income, pay school fees, better housing and social needs. 

“This really changed the mindset of many to embrace farming as a business. People used to believe farming was a waste of time, he says. 

He adds: – “We have testimonies of many people who were fishermen, civil servants and youths who have appreciated farming through our innovation to take it as any other job that needs investment of resources and time.” 

Adebo’s daily routine now involves visiting farmer groups daily, providing training, and farm demonstrations to help them learn and practice on their own. 

Adebo has faced a fair share of challenges such lacking reliable means of transport and a lack of awareness to farmers on modern agronomic practices. 

“We need USD 80,000 in funding to help us increase the irrigation systems and types because the one we have can only pump 7,000 liters per day,” he says. 

“Our partnership with Innovation Village and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been a game changer for us,” he sums up.