Power for All launched its Powering Agriculture Campaign In Jharkhand, India, through a virtual webinar titled "Strengthening Agriculture Value Chain through Productive Use of Energy (PUE)" on April 28, 2022. The campaign is essential in a country where most of the population depends on agriculture and related industries for their livelihood. Expanding access to modern and clean energy can play a vital role in transforming the agriculture sector and increasing the productivity and incomes of farmers.
During the webinar, Power for All also launched "Solar Agro Sathi," an agriculture working group that will collaborate with other relevant stakeholders to advance the productive use of energy in the state's agriculture sector and stimulate economic growth.
In the Jharkhand state, agriculture employs over half of the population but contributes only 13% of the GDP. Moreover, only 3% of the farmers use electricity for their operations.
“There’s an immense opportunity for PUE in the state to stimulate economic growth. Leveraging solar energy solutions can help increase agricultural production and productivity along key value chains and meet the growing demand for food and stimulate economic growth,” noted Ashwani Ashok, Power for All Program Manager, during the webinar.
Representatives from the state energy and agriculture departments, think tanks, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Farmers Producer Organization (FPOs), and other stakeholders attended the webinar.
They all noted the importance of PUE and identified the need for appropriate policies and supporting frameworks to promote this in the state.
“PUE application can help farmers, especially women workers, improve their livelihoods and become more self-reliant,” noted Prachi Singhal, Consultant, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
The group's next steps will be to identify key advocacy themes and target areas along the agriculture value chain to inform the Call to Action that will guide the campaign.
“Having guaranteed funds by banking and other financial institutions, as well as by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), would be key in increasing PUE in the agriculture value chain,” noted Vinay Jaju, Managing Director, SwitchON Foundation.
Mukesh Kumar, Electrical Executive Engineer (EEE) at Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JRED), reiterated this and added: “For long-term operations, replication, and growth of DRE solutions in the state, robust, comprehensive, and sustainable business models are required, as well as strong market linkages.”
“A clear policy framework for DRE focussing on scaling these DRE solutions in the state is also necessary for the just transition of the state,” added Vijay Shankar, Energy Consultant, WRI India.
The campaign will also document successful case studies to showcase the benefits of PUE appliances in the agriculture sector and continue to interact with and lobby government bodies such as Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA), Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS), and Agriculture Departments to align PUE with ongoing and upcoming agricultural schemes in the state.