Are Solar Irrigation Pumps a Panacea for Indian Agriculture? A Discussion on Gujarat’s SPaRC Project

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E​PW.

 

Can solar irrigation pumps give farmers income security?

The Solar Power as a Remunerative Crop (SPaRC) project, implemented in Dhundi Village in Gujarat in 2016, generates energy through solar panels and allows farmers to sell the excess energy back to the local power distribution company. Tushaar Shah, Neha Durga, Gyan Prakash Rai, Shilp Verma and Rahul Rathod, in their 2016 article “Promoting Solar Power as a Remunerative Crop” argue in favour of the SPaRC project’s supposed benefits—controlling groundwater exploitation, curtailing agriculture’s carbon footprint and to also increase farmer incomes. 

Meera Sahasranaman, M Dinesh Kumar, Nitin Bassi, Mahendra Singh and Arijit Ganguly respond to Shah et al; they question the empirical evidence produced and also raise concerns regarding the economic sustainability of the SPaRC project. Shilp Verma, Neha Durga and Tushaar Shah reply to Sahasranaman et al’s response, re-emphasising the crucial role that solar irrigation pumps could play in India’s agricultural future.  

 

A few other works that are broadly related to this discussion:

 

  1. A Take on Solar Power in India, Kawaljeet Kaur Kapoor and Yogesh K Dwivedi, 2017
  2. Karnataka's Smart, New Solar Pump Policy for Irrigation, Tushaar Shah, Shilp Verma, Neha Durga, 2014
  3. Solar Irrigation Pumps: Farmers’ Experience and State Policy in Rajasthan, Avinash Kishore, Nidhi Prabha Tewari, Tushaar Shah, 2014
  4. India's Solar Mission: Procurement and Auctions, Ashwin Gambhir, Girish Sant, Ranjit Deshmukh, 2011

 

Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at edit@epw.in with the subject line—“Agriculture and Solar Energy.”

 

[Curated by Palak Agarwal (palak.kayokai@gmail.com) and Kieran Lobo (kieran@epw.in)]

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