Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Interest subsidy
Mains level: Irrigation is an important issue of the Agricultural economy. The newscard discusses its solution in the form of solar pumps
Efforts done by different state governments
- Maharashtra is solarising its agricultural feeders by installing solar power plants at the substation level, through competitive bidding
- Karnataka is promoting solar pumps for existing grid-connected farmers under a net-metering regime
- This regime allows them to generate additional income by feeding back surplus energy into the grid
Are we heading towards in the right direction?
- Despite the diversity of approaches and significant government subsidies, only about 1,42,000 pumps have been deployed till date against a target of one million pumps by 2021
How solar pumps can help?
- In India, 53% of the net-sown area is still rain-fed
- Solar pumps hold potential to enhance irrigation access, advance low-carbon agriculture, reduce the burden of rising electricity subsidies, and improve the resilience of farmers against a changing climate
What can be done?
- Target marginal farmers with smaller solar pumps, particularly in areas with good groundwater development potential
- Couple solar pump deployment with micro-irrigation and water harvesting interventions at the farm and community levels
(due to limited water availability in some areas)
- In regions with already good penetration of electric pumps, prefer feeder solarisation through competitive bidding over solarisation of individual pumps
(as solarising individual grid-connected pumps is the costliest approach for the government to expand irrigation cover)
- In regions with prevailing local water markets, promote community-owned solar pumps
(for competitive prices)
- Encourage sharing of solar pumps among farmers through farmer extension programmes
- Provide interest-subsidy to farmers combined with reduced capital subsidy to enable large-scale deployment of solar pumps in a shorter span of time
(for covering great number of farmers)
What is interest subsidy: The value of the tax deductions of an individual’s or company’s earnings resulting from interest payments on its debt over the course of a year.
The way forward
- The government should continuously improve and innovate its support mechanisms on solar for irrigation
- India must exploit the potential of this decentralised technology to achieve the dual national targets of 100 GW of solar and doubling farmers income by 2022