I received this mail from a retired officer from the Indian Navy.
It was really motivating to see how he was trying to find a solution through solar, for the plight of farmers suffering from water shortage.
I am not revealing the name of village and person’s name for privacy and confidentiality. But the lack of these hardly matter. The subject he is talking about could be the case of 1000s of villages across the country.
I do hope that something can be done for these farmers. Not easy, but can be done – the key is of course to figure out a proper PPA scheme and more important, financing model for these as we are talking about poor farmers.
I am aware that there was a Karnataka farmers’ scheme (Solar Mango is even helping a developer put up a 2 MW power plant for the same!), but honestly most farmers will not be avail this scheme as the banks will require a collateral for loan which the poor farmers won’t be able to produce.
Anyway, do read the note sent to me and suggest what you feel could be done.
The mail to Solar Mango:
I am a RETIRED SHORT SERVICE COMMISSIONED OFFICER from INDIAN NAVY presently working in – Chennai. I come from a humble family where my grandfather is a freedom fighter and father is a retired district surgeon…My father owns a small plot of land ( Around Six acres ) in a place in Bellary district, Karnataka State. This land falls in dry land area where the climatic condition in that place is dry and we have more than 330 days of sunshine in a year
Since last 7 years my dad is trying to grow crop in the land that we have in our village, every year he tries hard but whatever is earned is given for labour / farmers who work in our field. We are not getting the fruits of the land. Every year we are dependent on rain god…..and there is no water in the ground ( Water table is so low that bore well have failed). Our village is one of the most backward village as many of the farmers have small land of 2 to 3 acres and plight of them is very bad. They try to grow at least one crop per year which will give an amount of around 15 to 10 thousand per acre. I have really felt that, me being well educated should do something to that village and when I was thinking, it occurred to me that have to grow something on the land and if we cannot grow food then why we cannot try and grow power by putting up a solar farm.
As an experiment I want a solar farm of 1MW to be set up in our field, if it is working out then I will be speaking to the villagers and see that they all get benefitted by growing power in their respective fields.
I would request you to help me in realizing my dreams of growing power in the fields where they cannot grow food and together we can bring revolution in the backward villages of India …..
Hoping for a positive reply from you.
Interesting, don’t you think?
Imagine: A 1 acre plot can have about 200 kW of solar power plant, which will give about 3.5 lac units of power annually, and at a tariff of even Rs 6/kWh, the farmer will get a revenue of over Rs 20 lacs from his 1 acre every year. As against Rs 20,000 he earns from farming, according to the sender of the mail.
Rs 20 lacs Vs. Rs 20,000! 100:1!
Solar looks like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
Actually, no. The devil is in the details
There is no capital cost (or little capital cost) involved for making the Rs 20,000 every year from farming, but there is a huge capital cost (about Rs 1.2 crores for a 200 kW Plant) involved in making Rs 21 lacs. Secondly, even after investing the capital cost, the farmer has to figure out who would be buying the power from his solar farm for a decent price. Not easy at all.
So, there we are: In lands that are suffering from water scarcity, the farmers can possibly earn a lot more from solar than from their current farming in lands that have water scarcity, but the government needs to find a way of funding these projects in a way that the poor farmers (and not just the rich landlords), can benefit.
Solar Mango will be glad to help any government initiative in this regard, for any part of India. If any of you have any ideas of how to get this idea off the ground, do write in your thoughts in the comments, or send a note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org