Solar water pumps – Strengthening Agriculture

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Agriculture has been the most important aspect of the human community since the beginning of the time. It was the first step that man took to create a better life and till date it is the largest employer in the world, sustaining 40% of the world’s population. Unfortunately, irrigation – the primary factor for successful agriculture yield- is predominantly fuelled by fossil fuels till date. Since the world is moving towards renewable sources of energy generation, it is time to transform agriculture through these sources as well. Solar pumps offer a way to enhance cultivation processes while decreasing diesel fuel usage considerably.

Benefits of Solar Pumps

In India, agriculture sector employs 52% of the country’s total workforce. Upon calculation, it was found that the cost of energy for pumping water can be up to 30% of the total expense for farmers. Consequently, switching to solar pumps would be both cheaper and convenient. This is not all. By promoting solar pumps and adding more people to the cause, India can save approximately $6 billion a year in electricity and diesel subsidies. Thereby, solar pumps are not just enhancing agricultural processes but also helping small businesses and farms embrace solar energy.

Business Models for Solar Pumps in Farming

Mis-managed electricity grids have made many countries depend on diesel for irrigation. These countries noticeably experience a hike in the fossil fuel intake during the season of irrigation (over 25% of annual diesel use in countries like Bangladesh). As a result, the fiscal burden on public budgets gets imbalanced, as energy for irrigation is subsidized. Keeping everything in mind, it is also essential for a country to keep the food costs low as it is one of the primary needs of an individual.

In order to solve the issue and support the growth of solar powered irrigation, the Indian government has taken various steps and introduced different business models. Besides the availability of the pump on 30% capital subsidy, there are other measures in place such as:

  • Group access facility: In this model, the pump can be purchased by a group of individuals or a community. This process makes sure that a single person does not have to carry the financial burden (if any) alone, and the pump is accessible to the members of the group when needed.
  • Renting facility: This model enables the farmers to rent the pump for a specific duration of time from service providing companies (mostly third-party organizations). This helps the farmers save money on maintenance and storage requirements.
  • Pay as you go facility: This model helps farmers in paying for the pump in installments. This ensures that the farmers have to pay only viable amounts of money at one-time.

However, obstacles like low awareness rate, delay of subsidy disbursal, financing issues and some other factors are hampering the solar pump implementation across India. These issues can be dealt with by the Indian Government by focussing on better tender designs, offering flexible eligibility criteria and most importantly creating awareness. Switching to solar energy would prove to be a huge benefit for the agriculture sector in particular and for India at large, by offering a cleaner and safer future.

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