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Plentiful plantains

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE: A farmer makes the switch from flood to drip irrigation


Walking through groves of plantain trees, Candelario Bojorge and iDeal technicians discuss the various lines of black tubing that are running along the base of the trees. If you look closely, you can see small amounts of water leaking out from the tubes, quickly absorbed by the dark, moist soil. 

Nicaragua is known for its lakes and rivers—water scarcity has not been a problem until now. The rains are coming less frequently, and weather patterns are less predictable. Farmers like Candelario are having to pivot their practices—making such changes as switching from traditional flood irrigation to water-saving drip irrigation.

Candelario Bojorge

Candelario is a plantain farmer and a drip irrigation retailer. Working with iDeal, an iDE social enterprise focused on increasing farmers’ productivity through technology, Candelario sells drip irrigation kits to farmers in his community.

Candelario can speak firsthand to the benefits of iDeal’s drip irrigation system—it has helped him earn nearly 40 percent more income. Before, he was using traditional flood irrigation—pumping 25,000 liters of water per hour into his grove for eight hours each week. Flooding his grove four times per month meant he was going through 800,000 liters of water monthly. 

iDE PC Candelario 16x9

Today, with the iDeal drip irrigation system, Candelario only uses 400,000 liters per month, with the same pump. The low-pressure system also saves on fuel costs. He is now more resilient to prolonged dry seasons and increasing water scarcity.

“It is very easy to operate—I just open and close the valves. While I am irrigating I can do other things, like working on the farm or helping my wife with the kiosk sales we have at the house,” said Candelario. 

It has also allowed him to expand his farm—he is now able to irrigate double the land area using the same amount of water as before. And the quality of the plantains has improved—his trees are growing more and bigger plantains.

Today, iDeal technicians and Candelario are working together to test the efficiency of the system and find ways to improve upon it. They lean in close to check the meter readings on a pump valve. Jotting down the reading, one technician adds the results to a roster of dates and locations. With this data, iDeal will create a strategy for an even more efficient system—saving Candelario and other farmers even more time and money and increasing their resilience to changing weather patterns.  

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