November 1, 2012

2012: Highlight # 27

Farmers in water-abundant Bihar economize on irrigation due to the absence of electricity and the ever-rising price of diesel. Can solar-powered irrigation pumps be their savior? Rakesh Tiwary explores...

An Experiment in Solar Power Based Community Tube wells for Irrigation in Nalanda District, Bihar

An assessment

Rakesh Tiwary

Agricultural growth in many Indian states has, during recent years, been fuelled by explosive, and often unsustainable expansion in groundwater irrigation. Bihar however is not one of these. The state has abundant groundwater; however, much of this remains untapped because of lack of electricity and high price of diesel. Providing farmers reliable and affordable energy for groundwater irrigation is central to kickstarting Bihar’s green revolution. Government of Bihar has recently experimented with solar energy to power a cluster of 34 community tube wells. This Highlight makes a preliminary assessment of the promise offered by solar pumps. It concludes that solar power may indeed have the potential to open Bihar’s doors to rapid agricultural growth, that too, at minimal environmental cost.

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