Solar energy: For Amrit Kaal in agriculture
By making solar energy the ‘third crop’ and augmenting it with innovative practices on a mission mode, the government can double farmers’ income.
Agriculture after 75 years of independence:
- Decreased land holding size: Average holding size from 2.3 hectares in 1970-71 to just 1.08 hectares in 2015-16.
- Food Security: We are going to surpass China by 2023 with a population size of 1.66 billion and ensuring food security with nutrition in check is can be challenging, given the low per capita income of $2,300.
- Sub-sectors performing better: Poultry and fisheries have the fastest growth, while it has been the slowest in cereal production.
- “Ship to mouth” to a “net exporter”: We have turned the table from being a country with a “ship to mouth” situation in the mid-1960s to emerging as the largest exporter of rice in the world (21mmt in FY22).
“Solar as a Third crop”:
- On one acre of cultivated land, which grows two crops a year, one can have more than 400 solar panels (trees) of 10 to 12 feet in height, with due spacing for regular cultivation to continue.
- Solar energy generated from 400 panels will be the “third crop” that can be bought by the power companies and incorporated into the grid for distribution.
- A pilot programme in the Najafgarh KVK area revealed that farmers could earn additional income of up to Rs one lakh/acre.
- This is the “inclusive growth, green growth” model that needs to supplement the solar parks model being developed by big entrepreneurs.