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Need of Solar Based Agriculture

India is principally an agricultural country and agriculture is playing a good role as backbone of Indian economy. Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is unquestionably the largest livelihood provider in India. Most of the industries also depend upon agriculture sector for their raw materials. Steady investments in technology development, irrigation infrastructure, emphasis on modern agricultural practices and provision of agricultural credit and subsidies are the major factors which contributed to agriculture growth. Indian agriculture has undergone rapid transformation in the past two decades. The policy of globalization and liberalization has opened up new avenues for agricultural modernization.This has not only led to commercialization and diversification, but also triggered various technological and institutional innovations owing to investments from corporate entities. From a net importing country, India is today (2017-18-and AE) consistently producing 277.9 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrain 110.01 MT of rice, 97.11 MT of wheat, 33.92 million bales of cotton and more than 23.95 MT of pulses.

The growth is facilitated mainly Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) system, which is spread across the country. Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmer Welfare under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI is the nodal organization responsible for development of the agriculture sector in India. The organization is responsible for formulation and implementation of national policies and programmers aimed at achieving rapid agricultural growth through optimum utilization of land, water, soil and plant resources of the country. Modi Government's new plan is ready to bank Solar power with earnings. This time, the Government will give people a chance to install small grid, so that people can earn by doing solar power through these grids. For this, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE, Gal) has prepared a draft policy.

What is the Plan?

MNRE plans to set up at least 10 thousand micro and mini-grid' projects in the country in the next five, years, which are renewable energy based. That is, these are connected to the power produced from the grid solar, wind, biomass-power plant. The Ministry (MNRE) aims to create 500 MW electricity in the country in the next five years by this plan. Government will give opportunity to impose micro and mini grid for any one person, group, local authority, village panchayat, user association (RWA, Traders Association etc.), co-operative societies, NGOs or companies, who will build, commission, operate and maintain. They will be called Energy Service Company (ESCO).

What is Mini and Micro Grid?

According to a draft policy prepared by the Ministry (MNRE), mini grid will be renewable energy based electricity generator, which has a capacity of 10 kilowatt or more and can supply electricity to the consumers through public distribution network. Similarly, Renewable Energy Based Electricity Generator and Public Distribution Network with a capacity of less than 10 kilowatts will be called Micro Grid. Consumers, who will be supplied with power from these grid include Residents, Commercial, Productive, Industrial and Institutional Settlement for Household Use. This Scheme has a direct meaning that any person, group or company can sell solar power directly to the consumers by installing solar or wind power plants in any area and connecting them with these grids. Interestingly, the electricity will be sold at what rate, it will not be interfered with by the Government. That is, the tariff set by the State Electricity Regulatory Authority will not be valid, but the mutual consent between the, grid operator and the consumer will be fixed. In such a situation, if the consumer wants to refuse to take power, then he can.

Goal of Doubling, Farmers Incomes

Our Honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has set a goal of doubling farmers' incomes in India by 2022. Irrigation will be a key player in ensuring this goal, While, this is obvious in the case of farmers with-out electricity, who are not able to irrigate. Solar: pumping will play a critical role on income growth even for those, who have a connection. Agricultural connections on an average supply 4 to 5 hours of electricity a day. This solar pumps system is playing a good role for irrigation in Agriculture in Gujarat State, since long. Many cash crops that can gene-rate better income for the farmers, require more irrigation. With solar pumping, farmers are able to irrigate their crops for a longer duration and grow their income. Various Ministries of the Nation including MNRE and the Agriculture Ministry have taken concrete steps to support solar pumping. The Largest Subsidy driven programmes, is the NABARD solar pumping programme. With a stated goal of 30,000 pumps across the nation, it can truly make a difference. In addition these are various State level programmes, which are not of this scale, but that also compliment the growth of irrigation with solar power. India by and large is still unaware of the solar pumping opportunity. Most farmers have never seen a solar pump in action. They are interested in the solar solution and can afford it, but hesitate to move ahead, fearing loss of their investment. Demo models and tours to running solar pumping locations is the need of the hour.

Why solar Pump is Necessary?

Main benefits of a solar pumping system are as follows:

1. Zero operating costs -no electricity or diesel bills.
2. Runs for 7 to 10 hours per day.
3. Fixed schedule of operation—sunrise to sunset.
4. Clean energy solution.
5. Government offers subsidy available in many States.
6. Long life – 25 years life of panels
7. Low maintenance system.

Each year thousands of farmers and agriculturists are adopting solar pumps for one or many of these reasons

1. Limited electric power supply-4 to 6 hours per day.
2. Erratic schedule—sometimes in the day, and sometimes in the night.
3. New connections not readily available for those without a connection.
4. High cost of irrigating a diesel pump.
5. The challenges of operating a diesel pump—high maintenance and technical problems.
6. Environment friendliness—A desire to shift to clean solar energy.
7. To connect solar power to the drip irrigation system.
8. For use in a polyhouse, shade-house, or green house.
9. Mix usage of the power generated for farming and at the farm house.
10. Benefits of subsidized rates being offered by the Government.

Who is Responsible for the Plight of farmers?

The situation of farmers in the country is constantly declining. In the last 20 years, nearly three lakh farmers have committed suicide. This is the reason, why the fierce movement of farmers is being spread in place today. What are the reasons for the misery of the farmers? The main reason for this is that the 'Green Revolution' (1966-67) and its related policies can be considered. Green Revolution' has turned the direction of agriculture towards chemical fertilizers, pesticides, dependence on large dams and other irrigation projects. All these efforts started bumper yield. This is the reason why this period was given the name of the 'Green Revolution'. During this time varieties of hybrid seeds began to flow.

Insects that were cultivated with the help of chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds were pesticides-resistant. To stop them, pesticides are being used more and more. Using high capacity pesticides, a kind of poison began to dissolve in yield. It has started to adversely affect the health of the farmers who sprinkle it. The cost of the farmer increased due to pesticides. On the other hand, the fertility of the land decreased. These insecticides had a lack of micronutrients and they started to eliminate microscopic microorganisms.

Due to irrigation canals, water had to be entered due to irrigation. Due to this, some part of the land was wasted where irrigation was not done from the cannals, there was less water level by implementing the underground tube well.The construction of large dams was said to be a blessing for India's agriculture. On this pattern, Sardar Sarovar Project has been brought in Gujarat. In this project 90 percent of the irrigation budget of Gujarat has been consumed and it is now able to irrigate only 2 lakh hectares of land. It is only irrigating about 10 per cent of the estimated landif half of the amount spent in this project was also spent in Harvesting of Rain Water, then every inch of Gujarat's agricultural land could have irrigation.The problem of floods and droughts is also increasing due to climate change. Support Price for All Crops. The Government of India has only fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of 24 Agriculture Produced /Crops on the recommendation of CACP (Commission of Agriculture Cost & Price) i.e., CCEA Committee. It is not fixed on other crops. The Swaminathan Committee recommended it to be fixed for all crops. The MSP of all crops should be fixed by the Govt., so as to increase farmers' income.

Infact, there is no permanent change from loan discounts etc. There is a need to change the whole agricultural policy. We need to move towards bio-fertilizers rather than organic farming, rainwater harvesting, micro-water irrigation, chemical fertilizers. These will reduce the need for pesticides, In India, 50 per cent of the population is directly and indirectly dependent on agriculture. If we did not take any action soon, we would face food crisis.

Twenty-Five Years of Economic Reforms

Twenty-five years of economic reforms, the policies of the Government have been made to win the trust of their international investors. In this, the interests of small producers, farmers and workers have not been taken care of. To attract its investors, the Government had to keep inflation under control, while raising taxes on the rich. As a result, the prices of agricultural resources were increased, as the subsidy was to be reduced. At the same time, the Government with-drew support prices from many food-grains. Because of this, Nationalized Banks also started to disperse the loans to the farmers.

The farmer had to be trapped in the clutches of mahajan. The decline of public investment in the agriculture and irrigation sectors, the absence of regulating agricultural traders and allowing the dealer to deal directly with the farmers, caused the plight of the farmers due to depriving them of important services like health and education. Farmers' income was very low. The situation of farm-based farming worsened and its growth rate fell due to the poor condition of the villages. It was difficult for most farmers to run home and they started adopting a suicide path. Another reason for the plight of the farmers is to grab their lands at cheaper prices for industries and infrastructure. The impact of the falling income of farmers and small producers was also on their catering. Their daily calorie intake was reduced and they became victims of malnutrition.

The 'Green Revolution' (1966-67) has enabled India to deal with the problem of drought and famine. Despite the constant drought of 2014 and 2015, India exported the highest rice in 2014. Today almost even' class in India has a mobile phone. The cheapest rates of telecom in the World are in India. Despite the economic development, corruption, garbage execution, cleanliness, education and health are the subjects, on which India has to work a lot.In order to meet the food grain requirements of the country, the agricultural productivity and its growth needs to be sustained and further improved. The growth target for agriculture in the 12th Plan (2012-17) is estimated to be 4 per cent as compared to 3.6 per cent for the 11th Plan (2007-12). By 2016-17, India growing at the rate of seven per cent is expected to reach the workforce demand of about 232 million from 229 million (in 2011-12) in agriculture sector, which constitutes 44 per cent of the total workforce of the economy. However, 95 per cent of the workforce requirement is expected to be generated in informal sector more so in agriculture.

 

Dr. RS Sengar, Alok Kumar Singh and Ashu Singh
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Agriculture University, Meerut
Email ID: sengarbiotech7@gmail.com



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