KBL: A Step towards Food Sufficiency

Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) has partnered for food sufficiency with the Government of Senegal, a country in Western Africa. Before 2005, Senegal’s irrigation infrastructure was under-developed. Government of Senegal was not able to meet the expected food sufficiency levels of the country because of the haphazard irrigation techniques. For achieving better means of livelihood, the Government of Senegal felt the urge to resolve the issue of unemployment among the rural youth and stop their exodus to cities.

The major challenge faced by Senegal was the need for skilled labour. In North Senegal, lack of proper irrigation equipment was identified as the foremost problem. Even though there was abundant water available in the Senegal River, there was no mode to direct it to the fields in sufficient quantities required to irrigate rice. Alongside, South Senegal was grieving over existence of excessive saline surface water for irrigation purposes. The feasible alternative was to tap ground water in order to receive a supply fit for the yield.

In 2005, the Confederation of Indian Industries organised a conclave on ‘India-Africa Projects Partnership’. In this event, KBL presented its range of pump-sets and capabilities to ministers from over twenty-five African nations that came for the confederation. Subsequently, KBL was approached by delegates from Senegal for seeking expertise required for implementing affordable, adaptable and appropriate irrigation systems in order to increase rice production.

In the conference, KBL presented a proposal to the President of Senegal and to all the major stakeholders from the rice production sector in the country. The proposal was comprehensive with recommendations for the irrigation equipment required to double rice yields in two phases. In Phase-I, less than 10,000 tons to 500,000 tons of rice was achieved by improving irrigation standards in existing farmlands. In Phase-II, more land was brought under cultivation to further increase the yield up to 1 million tons.

KBL also signed a contract with the Ministry of Agriculture in Senegal for 2,394 diesel engine driven pump sets, 20 drip irrigation systems and various accessories, including pipes, trolleys, hoses, pontoons, valves, etc., along with installation and commissioning on a turnkey basis

Proper planning and follow-up led to the completion of Phase-I on schedule. 1,600 pumps were shipped from India to Senegal. Phase II involved engagement of 250 submersible pumps driven by 20-62 kVA gen-sets and large vertical turbine end-suction pump sets, along with agricultural equipment comprising of rice mills, vibro-destoners, ground-nut decorticators, chippers, shredders and grinding mills.

After incorporating the advanced KBL technology and strategy, an implausible growth was witnessed in Senegal. Since the completion of Phase I, around 50% of the rice demand is met. Earlier, only 19% of the total demand for rice was fulfilled. Completion of Phase II resulted in irrigation of more than 1,50,000 hectares of farmland, thereby leading to further increase in food sufficiency levels in the country.

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