According to reports, anguished by long hours of power cuts, farmers of Coimbatore district are increasingly displaying interest in solar-powered irrigation pump sets which, they feel, will be of great use to them as the dependence on the State electricity grid will be much less.
Some of them, who have been using other solar-powered products, are aware that in respect of maintenance, there will not be much hassle. But, what comes in the way of going in for solar is the cost factor.
For an irrigation pump set of five horsepower (HP) capacity the additional cost will be, on an average, Rs. 3.5 lakh to Rs. 4.5 lakh as it requires 5 kW solar system. The solar system’s capacity can be increased according to the pump set’s capacity.
The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy gives subsidy up to 30 per cent of the cost for a 5 HP pump set. The farmers want a liberal subsidy scheme from the State Government too, without which it will not be affordable for them.
D. Selvaraj, who is into organic farming, says small and marginal farmers can be given 100 per cent subsidy.
M.R. Sivasamy, State president of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangham, seeks 75 per cent subsidy to farmers, irrespective of their landholding.
They also want the government to address a host of other related issues. Three aspects — reliability of the solar systems for agricultural water pumping, service backup and the cost — have to be tackled effectively, says Mr. Selvaraj.
Dr. Sivasamy, who is not optimistic that the free-power scheme will remain for perpetuity, says farmers can be motivated to switch to subsidised solar power pump sets but the authorities should ensure that time-tested technology is encouraged.
G.D. Gopalakrishnan, who runs a firm that provides solar systems for agricultural pump sets, says there are enquiries from farmers, who are being sensitised to the wider benefits of solar systems, which can also be used to operate agricultural equipment other than pump sets.
It will be appropriate if the State Government gives 20 per cent subsidy in addition to the 30 per cent subsidy from the Centre.
This will go a long way in promoting solar-powered irrigation pump sets.