Worldwide pandemic can’t stop irrigation project

Grethe Bestbier, Agrico
Published: 1 October 2021


All turnkey irrigation projects bring about their own challenges. For a turnkey project executed during a global pandemic, even more so. An ongoing Agrico project located on Panda farm in Nigeria was initiated during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. From inaccessible roads and large electricity bills to lockdown restrictions and shipping issues, this is the story of how Agrico pulled off the near impossible.

Introducing the Panda challenge: inaccessibility, electricity and a delayed shipment
The Panda project consisted of two phases. Panda farm is not accessible by road from the Agrico Lichtenburg factory, posing logistical and site establishment challenges. All material needed for the first phase was packed into 17 forty-foot containers and shipped to site.

Another 34 of these containers were involved in the second phase. Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the first consignment of containers was held up at customs to only arrive at site twelve months after departure. Because of these shipping challenges, the two phases confluenced into a single installation.

The challenges did not end here. The electricity for this project was supplied by generators, which significantly increased the operational cost when compared to a normal grid supply. The shipping of the material, not to mention high electricity costs, all added to project expense and had to be taken into account during project design.

Supply and installation: Agrico supplies and installs the full system – from digging trenches to laying cables, constructing pump stations and erecting centre pivots.

A cost-effective solution by Agrico
The team emphasised the importance of an energy-efficient approach to optimise the ratio of capital to operating expenses. The irrigation system was designed in such a way that the lengths of different pipe diameters (160 mm to 500 mm) were balanced, to allow for nesting and optimal use of shipping containers. More than 32 km of PVC pipe was shipped for this project.

During the first phase, an abstraction canal was trenched from the Panda river to allow for an abstraction pump station situated away from the banks of the river. This pump station transfers water to a distribution pump station, where two zinc balancing reservoirs were built. Reservoir levels are automatically balanced with Agrico Web Control, which offers remote and automated control of the irrigation system. From here, the water is pumped to the first group of centre pivots.

The second phase involved the installation of a bulk water transfer pump station at a large earth wall reservoir. This pump station transfers water via a 3 km dual pipeline to the zinc reservoirs at the distribution pump station constructed earlier, where reservoir levels are again automated with Agrico Web Control. From this distribution pump station, all second phase pivots are supplied with water.

Leave it all in our hands
Agrico turnkey projects provide finished irrigation systems like the Panda project all over Africa. Our projects are designed from the ground up and are optimally suited to the location, crops and available water and energy resources. At Agrico, our mission is to understand your needs and provide you with a design that achieves the optimal use of your available land, water and energy.

Our experts take full responsibility – from consultation with the customer to design and development, quotation, order placement, preparation and delivery to installation and after-sales support.