(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Powering Growth in Agriculture Sector
(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Powering Growth in Agriculture Sector
Powering Growth in Agriculture Sector
- Agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy contributing nearly 15 per cent to national GDP.
- It provides livelihood to around two-third of the total working population in the country
- Further, agriculture is the primary source of raw materials for some of the major industries such as textile, sugar, food, pharma (mainly Ayurveda) and new age health and fitness products.
- Recently, agriculture has jumped to the 7th position as net exporter, across the globe.
- Agriculture also demands high energy inputs in many of its activities, mainly irrigation.
- According to estimates, agriculture consumes nearly 20 per cent of the electricity consumed at national level.
- Additionally, farmers have installed around nine million diesel pump sets to harvest groundwater for irrigation purposes.
- Energy consumption at this high level has raised concern in view of India’s commitment to reduce the carbon intensity by less than 40 per cent by 2030 (COP-26).
- Recently, the Government has set a target to make the agriculture sector diesel free by 2024. In this context, renewable energy (RE) has emerged as the most viable and sustainable option to address the environmental concerns and meet the targets as envisaged by the Government of India.
- RE also promises to increase income of farmers and save precious natural resources, mainly water.
- The Government has taken a series of steps to empower farmers with RE systems to make them energy self-sufficient, particularly in irrigating their fields. Various sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind, small hydro, biomass and agricultural wastes are being deployed in rural settings for agricultural purposes.
- The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) also facilitates related research, design, development and manufacture.
- At state level, a network of Renewable Energy Development Agencies actively co-operate and co-ordinate with MNRE to connect with various stakeholders, primarily farmers.
Resources at Work:
Biogas plants generate the high calorific value (5,000 kcal per cu.m.) gas by decomposition of organic materials such as cattle dung, agricultural wastes, poultry droppings, night soil and municipal wastes.
- Currently, over five million biogas plants of various capacities are operational in the country
- Most commonly, biogas in its raw form is used as clean fuel for cooking, lighting, motive power and generation of electricity.
- It is also used in diesel engines to substitute diesel up to 80 per cent, however, 100 per cent replacement of diesel may be achieved by using Biogas Engines.
- The digested slurry from biogas plants, a by-product, is used as a nutrient enriched organic manure for improving crop yield and also maintaining soil health.
- Thus, biogas plants help with waste management, reduce energy costs, improve soil fertility and curb carbon emissions.
- Proper waste management on farms leads to better cleanliness and hygiene which improves the living conditions and health of the community. The biogas sector has helped generate employment for both skilled and unskilled rural people.
- Government of /ndia is promoting installation of biogas plants by providing subsidy through two major schemes:
(a) New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme (NNBOMP).
(b) Biogas Power Generation (off-grid) and Thermal Energy Application Programme (BPGTP)
- Government of India has launched a dedicated GOBARdhan (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme (Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen Phase-2) with twin objectives – to make the villages clean and generate clean power from organic wastes.
- The scheme also aims to increase income of farmers by converting biodegradable waste into compressed biogas (CBG).
- Technical and financial assistance under the scheme is attracting entrepreneurs for establishing community based CBG plants in rural areas.
- CBG is a purified form of biogas (98 per cent purity of methane content) which makes it suitable for use as green and clean fuel for transportation or filling in cylinders at high pressure (250 bar). Scheme is also promoting rural employment and income generation opportunities for rural youth and others.
- Recently, Asia’s largest CBG plant was inaugurated at Sangrur, Punjab with an FD/ investment of Rs. 220 crores.
- CBG plant offers a much needed substitute for burning crop stubbles which is a serious environmental and health issue.
- It is claimed that this plant will reduce the burning of stubble on 40,000-45,000 acres of fields, resulting in an annual reduction of 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This will help India meet its CoP-26 climate change targets of reducing carbon emissions.
- Biomass materials used for power generation primarily include bagasse, rice husk, straw, crop waste and agricultural residues.
- MNRE has been implementing biomass power/ cogeneration programs since the mid-nineties.
- Over 800 biomass power and bagasse/ non-bagasse cogeneration projects aggregating to over 10,206 Mega Watt capacity have been so far installed in the country with central financial assistance from Government of India.
- Power from biomass is generated by installing biomass gasifiers in proximity to the source of raw materials to reduce costs.
- Irrigation pumps powered by rice-husk electricity are cheaper, long lasting and more ecofriendly than diesel powered pumps. Irrigation facility at low cost allows farmers to increase crop intensity and also improves crop yield.
3. Solar Energy
- Addressing the energy concerns in the agriculture sector, a large number of solar devices/ equipment have been developed and deployed that include solar water pumps, solar dryers, solar dusters etc.
- The PM-KUSUM scheme is one of the largest initiatives of the world to provide clean energy to more than 35 lakh farmers and also enhance their income. The scheme is being implemented through its three components with specific objectives:
- In addition to day time reliable power and increase in farmer’s income, the scheme also has direct employment generation potential for skilled and non-skilled work force. According to estimates, each solar installation creates approximately 24.50 job years per MW.
- PM-KUSUM will help reduce subsidies required from states for electricity supply to agriculture.
- It will also help boost domestic solar manufacturing mainly to make solar cells and solar modules for which we still depend on imports.
- The scheme will lead to an annual reduction of 1.38 billion litres in diesel consumption per year, thus, reducing the import bill on account of petroleum products.
- The scheme will also lead to reducing carbon emissions by as much as 32 million tonnes per annum.
- Due to the immense potential and scope of renewable energy in the agriculture sector, the Government is focusing on decentralised RE systems and products.
- MNRE has recently released a framework (2022) to promote RE based applications that are used for earning livelihoods. A special focus on engaging all stakeholders, skill development and capacity building would scale up RE-based livelihood applications.
- However, financing for the end-users and enterprises would be critical to enable the adoption of solutions and scale-up of the sector.
- RE based decentralised and distributed applications have benefitted millions of farmers in villages by meeting their energy needs in an environment friendly manner.
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