The motor pump mill


Notes to broadcasters

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Burkina Faso is a Sahelian country in western Africa. Its farm production is heavily influenced by the unpredictabilities of a rainy season that lasts only three months. Irrigation could thus be a valuable practice, and would allow diversification and increased farm production. However, intensive irrigation requires a lot of effort from farmers. Unfortunately, they do not have sufficient resources.

Still, some farmers use their creativity. They innovate and minimize the costs of certain pieces of equipment. One of those farmers is Salam Dipama, a tree farmer who developed a wonderful idea that made him famous in his region.

Salam transformed a mill into a motor pump that allows him to water four hectares of land, to farm year long, and to receive greater yields. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with his peers. He helps them acquire and maintain their own machines. Salam’s face lights up whenever he talks about his motor pump.

This script is based on an actual interview. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.


Sound of motor pump

A mill to pump water! You may think this is fiction. But actually … it’s true! This invention was developed by Mr. Salam Dipama, a farmer from Koubri, a village 25 kilometres south of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso. Salam transformed a mill into a motor pump that brings water into his orchard. He has used this innovation for the past seven years, and it’s been a true blessing for Salam and his family. I visited Salam on his farm and talked to him about it.

Farm sounds: occasional birds, cows. Fade and hold under conversation.

The mill and the pump are the two main elements of the system. I added an electrical outlet to the mill, and connected it to the pump with a cord. This electrical connection with the pump is what makes the mill able to carry water into my orchard. This is how I made the mill into a motor pump. The mill, in its original state, had no pump.

Salam never went to school. Neither did he receive any training in mechanics. But he has long experience with motor pumps. He is now a famous personality in his region. It all started one day when he met a visiting farmer from Saaba.

To be honest, I learned my trade right here in the village. Since I started growing fruit trees, I never went anywhere else. One day, a farmer visited me and said that he wanted to know more about my experience with banana crops. He invited me to his village. The farmer talked about using gasoline to operate a mill that would pump water for irrigation. But he had not been able to do it. This is where I had the idea to make the mill a motor pump. When I got back home, I worked on it. Then I tried it and it worked.

Salam invites us to observe his invention. It is a mill secured to a metallic plaque, and placed near an artificial pond that runs beside the orchard. A hose is anchored to the mill and connected to a water pipe. When operating, the motor pump allows him to water four hectares of land filled with orange trees, papaya trees, banana trees, grapefruit trees and vegetables.

Sound of motor pump. Fade and hold under conversation, along with farm sounds.

Salam is proud of his machine. It allowed him to expand his fields and water them on a regular basis. He designed his machine in 2002. When he talks about it, Salam’s face lights up.

I can easily do everything I need to do now. The results are obvious. You can see it for yourselves. The motor pump mill saves us a lot of work. We would not be able to water the whole orchard with watering cans. It would be too demanding. During the dry season, the motor pump lets us irrigate the orchard. My crops do not naturally grow in this region and cannot tolerate droughts. They are my hope, and the motor pump allows me to maintain them until the next rainy season. Thanks to the orchard, I can provide for my family. I can pay school fees for my kids. I can buy clothes for my relatives. I can afford medical care and many other necessary expenses. I thank God for this. Despite some ups and downs, the orchard is very profitable.

Salam did not succeed all alone. Agriculture technicians helped him acquire a lot of knowledge. He is aware of that and does not hide the fact.

I am very grateful to the farm technicians who assist us in our activities. They greatly contributed to the improvement of my farming practices. I thank them for that.

For a long period of time, Salam was a market gardener. Today, he is happy to cultivate fruit trees. A market gardener uses lots of oil in his farming practice, and the cost of oil has been rising every year. So, Salam is happy to work with a motor pump mill that uses gasoline, which is much cheaper than oil.

The motor pump mill is not a complex device. Inexpensive replacement parts are available on the market. A segment costs no more than fifteen hundred francs (a little more than $3 US dollars or 2 Euros), and a piston is about five to seven thousand francs (10 ½ to 14 ½ US dollars or 7 ½ – 10 ½ Euros). Occasional breakdowns are minor and do not cost a lot of money. Rarely does the cost of a replacement part go beyond twenty-five to thirty thousand CFA francs ($52-62 US dollars or 38-46 Euros). It is for all these reasons that I chose the motor pump mill. Of course, it is cheaper these days to use a gasoline-powered motor pump like I do. Oil is expensive and our resources are limited. We wish we could have acquired a modern high-powered motor pump. But when you can’t afford it, you need to adjust. That’s what we did.

Salam is very friendly. He likes to exchange with others. He is not selfish and he shares his knowledge with his peers.

Many people came to see me when they heard about the motor pump mill. I helped them assemble their motor pump, using their mill. Now, at least three people own this type of motor pump mill in the village. I take care of the repairs when the machines break down. Everyone is satisfied with their machine.

Fade up farm sounds and motor pump for 4 seconds, then fade out farm sounds. Hold sounds of motor pump below host

Thank you for listening today. Together, we met Mr. Salam Dipama. He is an ingenious farmer who transformed a mill into a motor pump which can irrigate his orchard. For him, the problems of the dry season are no more than a bad memory. This innovation allowed him to expand his fields and increase his production. Today, Salam welcomes many visitors who come to see what he has accomplished, and who benefit from his experience. We hope that other farmers will come up with innovations, like Salam, in order to improve their productivity. We very much need this kind of innovative farmer.

Sound of motor pump up, and then fade out


  • Contributed by: Gondougo Adama Zongo, General Direction, Radio Rurale du Burkina, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
  • Reviewed by: FAO’s Office of Communications and External Relations (Media Branch).
  • Translated by: Madzouka B. Kokolo, consultant.
  • Thanks to: Paul Tassembedo, native from Koubri village.

Information sources

  • Interview with Salam Dipama, farmer in Koubri, Kadiogo province, October 3, 2009.
  • Ignace Ouedraogo, Kadiogo Provincial Director, Agriculture, Hydrolics and Halieutic Resources

Regional Direction of Agriculture, Hydraulics and Halieutic resources, Centre Region