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Why FPO’s and FPC’s Should Start Using Renewable Energy

FPOs can set up small solar power plants with a capacity of up to 2 MW under the PM-KUSUM scheme, and the power generated can be purchased by distribution firms.

Chintu Das
Solar Energy
Solar Energy

FPO stands for farmer-producer organisations that are incorporated or registered under Part IXA of the Companies Act or the Co-operative Societies Act of the concerned States for the purpose of leveraging collectives through economies of scale in agricultural and allied sector production and marketing. 

The Government of India's Central Sector Scheme for the 'Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs),' with a total budgetary commitment of Rs 6,865 crore, aims to develop and promote 10,000 new FPOs by 2027-28. 

Around 86 percent of the country's farmers are tiny and marginal, with little access to new technology, credit, inputs, market links, or incentives to create a higher-quality product. As a result, the government is encouraging small, marginal, and landless farmers to form FPOs, which will help farmers improve their economic strength and market linkages, so increasing their revenue. 

However, one of the primary issues that these FPCs and FPOs confront is power supply, and farmers believe that renewable energy resources can help them succeed. 

FPO’s and FPC’s Power Requirement  

"Many solar-powered FPCs may be found in rural areas. For the past few years, my FPC has used solar electricity for primary processing. But we'd need more power for heavier processing," says Shivraj Kharbad, director of SSK Agro Farmer Producer Company in Beed district's Yusufwadgaon village. 

The FPC in Kharbad has constructed a 60-kilowatt solar plant on the processing unit's roof. "We will generate 200 units of power and send it to the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MEDCL), where we will use power with greater capacity." By exchanging our solar power with MSEDCL, we don't have to pay MSEDCL any electricity costs," he explains. Kharbad urged that FPCs and FPOs be provided with the same amenities as industrial units. 

FPCs and FPOs can set up small solar power plants with a capacity of up to 2 MW under the PM-KUSUM scheme. The Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) buy the power generated by the solar facilities at pricing set by the individual State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs). 

"The lack of power in rural regions is a source of concern. Almost all operations are hampered by load shedding. "Small FPCs will have to become self-sufficient in power, and MSEDCL should make separate arrangements for power supply for huge FPCs involved in major industrial operations," says Suresh Nakhate, Director of the Beed-based Sahyadri Balaghat Farmers' Producer Company. 

Farmers of India 

Crop production and cultivation accounted for 37% of agricultural households' income in India in 2018-19, compared to 48% in 2012-13, according to the National Sample Survey (NSS). More farmers now work for a living and supplement their income with animal husbandry, non-farm businesses, and land leases. 

The average size of operational holdings has declined from 2.28 hectares in 1970-71 to 1.84 hectares in 1980-81, 1.41 hectares in 1995-96, and 1.08 hectares in 2015-16, according to the latest Agriculture Census. 

Vilas Shinde, Chairman and Managing Director of the Sahyadri Farmers' Producer Company in Nashik, believes that farmer collectives are the solution to the agrarian issue, as they will assist farmers in overcoming economic difficulties. He demanded that the government assist new FPCs and FPOs in making the transition. 

If FPCs and FPOs are to survive and thrive, the government must invest heavily in renewable energy. For farmers and their businesses, power remains a big issue. And, especially in the early stages of a business, solar energy is a good option.

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