India brought to light a new plan for promoting solar farming. With an allocation of USD 21.8 billion, the government plans to start building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands, providing 1.75 million off-grid agricultural solar pumps. Through the scheme, farmers’ income levels are projected to see a sharp rise as they will be given an option to sell surplus power generated to the local power distribution companies.
Research partners first set up a solar pump irrigator’s cooperative in Dhundi Village of Gujarat in 2015, as a model of reference to be scaled for attaining multiple benefits of income growth, regularization of power, sustainable ground water use and de-dieselizing of agriculture leading to a curb in carbon dioxide emissions.
Now their efforts have come full circle with the Finance Minister of India announcing the government will take necessary measures and encourage state governments to put in place a mechanism that their surplus solar power is purchased by the distribution companies or licensees at reasonably remunerative rates.
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a concept envisions the creation and implementation of innovative models for attaining multiple benefits and resilience not just for the farming community but a wide range of stakeholders. The power from the sun is fetching not just economic dividends for the farmers but also helping create a sustainable business model on the whole. By early 2016, enough surplus power was sold to earn the farmers an additional income of around USD 5,300. Importantly, such initiatives put to motion the attainment of the nation’s intended nationally determined contributions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.