Project Launched: Spring 2008
Team: Peter Frykman
Six hundred million subsistence farmers lack irrigation water and are mired in poverty. Fully a third of the world’s population suffers from water scarcity. Without access to affordable water efficient irrigation, small-plot farmers are unable to grow crops during much of the year. Without marketable produce, already meager incomes decline, and farmers may even become unable to meet the nutritional needs of their own families. International Development Enterprises (IDE) challenged our team to make drip irrigation appropriate and accessible and to small-plot farmers.
The insight for Driptech came when Peter Frykman and his team traveled to Ethiopia for their need finding. They witnessed firsthand the hardship caused to many small-plot farmers by the drought cycle, leaving them with severely limited water resources and no means to irrigate their crops effectively. Locally available drip irrigation products were too expensive for most farmers and seldom worked properly at small-scale. It became clear that there was a tremendous need to develop affordable and appropriate irrigation solutions for small-plot farmers. The team returned to the d.school to invent a new manufacturing technology to address this need in a sustainable and scalable way.
Driptech irrigation systems offer all of the benefits of traditional commercial drip irrigation (reduced water usage by 30% to 70%, increased crop yields of 20% to 90%, and substantial time savings) with the following additional features optimized for plots of one acre or less:
- Designed for very low water pressures, including gravity feed from buckets and tanks
- Visibly higher uniformity of water application than any other low-cost product
- Easier to install, maintain, and expand
- Costs two to five times less than traditional drip irrigation
In addition, Driptech’s decentralized manufacturing model will deploy production facilities directly to regions where the product will be sold, allowing for local customization of the systems, additional cost reductions, and added benefit to rural economies through the generation of jobs.
What’s Happening Now?
After launching commercially in India in January 2011, the company has since closed a series A investment round and was selected by the World Economic Forum as a 2012 Technology Pioneer. Currently Driptech is continuing to develop strategic partnerships with dynamic organizations aligned with its mission, refining its distribution logistics and establishing a local manufacturing presence in the countries in which it works.