Patna, 15th October, 2019: At a national conference on agriculture, electricity and water interlinkages, organised by Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), experts conclude that solar energy can not only solve the problem of electricity deficit but also help increase farmer income. The conference was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture Dr. Prem Kumar and Sri Sanjy Kumar Jha, Hon’ble Minister of Water resource department of Govt. of Bihar. The Conference saw participation from various other stakeholders including agriculture, water and energy department of Govt. of Bihar and also from Prayas Energy Group, Auroville Consulting Group and IWMI among others.
The aim of the conference was to highlight the true potential of solar energy to set the energy transition in agriculture sector in Bihar. The conference aim to deepen the understanding about the harmonization of water and energy to improve the agriculture sector in Bihar. The agriculture sector has recorded an impressive annual growth and is the backbone of the Bihar’s economy. Agriculture sector alone contributes almost 18% to overall GDP of Bihar and key driver for investment in agri allied services. However, lack of irrigation facilities and cold storage due to unreliable power supply impede further growth. The low irrigation facility, mono cropping and poor post-harvest infrastructure directly affects farmer income and possibly trapping them in the debt cycle.
At the Conference, Mr. Ramapati Kumar, CEO of CEED highlighted that the present Agrarian crisis is a great threat to the Indian economy and we must work together to bring agriculture sector out of difficult situation. Changing weather patterns and depleting water supplies also add to this problem. These challenges force farmers to change their farming practices and this majorly impacts production and therefore lowers farmer income as well as national food security. Bihar with large population of small and marginal farmers and small landholding must adopt a sustainable and reliable energy pathway for agriculture sector to support its electricity need” stated Mr. Kumar.
“Government of Bihar must work and devise a plan for a complete energy transition for agriculture sector and consider solar energy as mainstay of improving the farming sector and doubling the income of farmers. If planned well, all of power need for agriculture sector in Bihar can be met by renewable energy. We need complete convergence of efforts to tackle this issues”, concluded Mr. Kumar
Mr. Sanjiwan Sinha, Managing Director of SBPDCL highlighted the various efforts of government to promote renewable energy in the agriculture sector. Government of Bihar have been pushing constantly the solar powered irrigation pump sets to reduce the dependency on rainfall as well as to promote solar farming on waste land. Mr. Sinha also highlighted the fact about completion of separate feeder for agriculture sector and stressed on the need to use solar energy to power these feeder in future.
The ground water based irrigation has critical role in ensuring food security and agriculture based livelihood in Bihar. “Electricity supply for food production and agriculture sector needs to be addressed in integrated approach covering all aspect of electricity supply in rural areas. As part of integrated approach of electricity for agriculture sector, both generation and supply needs to be decentralised and diversified and should be based on renewable energy. Possibly two models can be adopted here: off-grid model in form of standalone Solar powered irrigation pumps for remote villages or locations where centralised grid has not yet reached or not economically feasible. For majority of region where centralised grid is available, separate agriculture feeders should be set up for dedicated supply of electricity to farm land where source of power should be solar energy. Generation should be decentralised and should be based in villages itself which can allow for more control of farmers over power generation. Surplus electricity or electricity generated at time where irrigation is not required, should feed back into the central grid which can provide additional income for farmers.
Renewable power for entire value chain of agriculture in Bihar can be a game changer for agriculture and energy economy. The agriculture roadmap 3 has approved budget of 5827 crore to provide electricity through 11 K.V of dedicated farm feeder. Government of Bihar has plan to add 10 lakh metric ton of new storage capacity by 2022 and the electricity need for the same can be sourced through solar energy. The no. of consumers in the agriculture sector is projected to increase by 285% by FY 2019-20. The increase in power demand needs to be addressed in a sustainable manner with focus on clean source of energy.
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Note to editors;
1. Electricity, Water and Agriculture interlinkages, A report by Prayas, Pune based energy expert group http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Understanding%20the%20Electricity,%20Water%20&%20Agriculture%20Linkages.pdf