iDE Global

From treadle to solar

STAFF PROFILE: Badrul Alam is leading the next wave of innovation in agricultural technology

Meet one of our first employees. 

In 1985, Md. Badrul Alam visited a farm in the Sreebordi Upazila and saw an opportunity. One that would transform small farms in Bangladesh.  

Seven years earlier, he had graduated from the Agricultural University in Bangladesh with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. His interest in the mechanisms and machineries that enable farmers to grow more and better food propelled him into a long career with iDE. 

What he saw on that day in 1985 was a rudimentary structure—built from bamboo poles, powered by the feet and hands of the farmer—pulling water from the ground and soaking the farmer’s field.

(Photo by Al Doerksen / iDE)

Badrul and the agriculture team at iDE Bangladesh recognized the treadle pump as a transformative technology. Eventually, they helped local enterprises sell over one million treadle pumps, providing farmers in Bangladesh with a powerful weapon against hunger and malnutrition.

Md. Badrul has been working with iDE for over 31 years, contributing to the organization’s growth and impact. From treadle pumps in 1985 to solar pumps in 2016, Md. Badrul’s passion for developing affordable technology for farmers grows every year.

Testing Technology

Today, Badrul plays an advisory role in iDE’s Technology Center in Bangladesh, overseeing research and development activities on the latest iteration of the solar pump. While the Bangladesh's solar pump undergoes testing in the tech center, many are already in the field, including in Nepal, as shown in this photo.

I De Pc Badrul Alam 3X2

Here’s what Badrul has to say about how technology has advanced since the early treadle pump days.

“The solar pump is very interesting to me. So far, all of the pumps I have seen and known have been powered by man, animal, wind, diesel, or electricity, and they rely on many fast-moving parts. This pump is different because it has no moving parts, and the source of energy is the sun. There will be no carbon emissions. And we don’t need to physically record the data, like radiation, humidity, air temperature, and flow rate. The sensors record and report all of that information for us.”

His story is just one of the 944 people at iDE who are fighting global poverty with dedication, passion, innovation, and hard work. They make it possible for this generation of young people, growing up in rural villages around the world, to have opportunities their parents never had.

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Resource-smart technology

Bridging the design gap between the developed and developing worlds

Understanding that small-scale farming families have severe resource limitations, iDE works to help minimize the pressure on labor, income, water, and energy by identifying and re-designing technologies existing at the intersection of these four resources, which can have a life-changing impact on struggling farmers.

Read more: Technology that uses resources wisely, but isn't cost-prohibitive to poor farmers, is smart