Agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest in the world, with per capita output only 56 percent of the world average. Since 1980, more than 80 percent of output growth in the region has been achieved through expansion of the cropped area, rather than technological or other efficiency improvements, versus less than 20 percent for all other regions. In addition, population growth in Sub-Saharan Africa surpasses production growth, increasing the likelihood of food shortage. Indeed, food self-sufficiency declined from 97 percent in the mid-1960s to 82 percent in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, low incomes mean that African farmers are unable to afford commercial-quality irrigation equipment.
Starting in 1991, the nonprofit social enterprise organization KickStart began selling low-cost, human-powered irrigation pumps to enable smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (chiefly in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, and Tanzania, but also other countries) to enhance productivity, improve household incomes, and sustainably contribute to poverty reduction. Approximately 130,000 pumps have been sold across Sub-Saharan Africa, irrigating over 31,000 hectares of land.
With a $35–95 MoneyMaker pump, a farmer can grow and sell enough additional produce to make considerable progress from poverty toward middle class. For the people using them, KickStart pumps have led to an increase in annual household income of 100–200 percent. Data from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and other countries show that 440,000 people have been moved out of poverty through the usage of KickStart pumps. The pumps have also allowed for the creation of 87,000 small-scale agricultural enterprises across Sub-Saharan Africa. Further, the pumps have proven to be cost effective: the annual capital outlay required for a KickStart MoneyMaker pump, is approximately one-tenth that of a conventional irrigation system. /p>
The KickStart experience demonstrates that farmer entrepreneurship, in which agricultural enterprises are run as viable businesses and which is now fully integrated in Kenya, needs to be introduced in many Sub-Saharan African countries. It also shows that a participatory approach to rolling out a new technology infusion goes a long way in the absorption of the technology, and that technology evolution driven by users (this was done in the case of the Super MoneyMaker pump) can be powerful in this process. Additionally, the KickStart experience reinforces the idea that people in poverty have the desire to come out of poverty when accorded appropriate technology to generate wealth.