February 2, 2023, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Renewable energy for agriculture

More action is needed

The Nepal Weekly
July 12, 2022

Remarkably, Nepal is expending huge amount to import food items including rice, vegetable and fruits. The country is also spending a lot to import chemical fertilisers. On the other hand, farmers are getting hard to spare livelihood by cultivating their farms. In addition, a segment of youths prefer to find job in the Gulf, Malaysia, South Korea and so on. Thus, farm lands in some places remain uncultivated to cause less agricultural outputs. The governments at all levels, experts and professionals are well aware of the situation.

Renewable energy technologies to support agricultural activities may be taken as effective means to enhance agricultural productions. Time has come for the stakeholders of RE and agriculture work together to find the ways for more agriculture products to grow to check import of food grains, vegetable and fruits from other countries. The methodologies may be looked complex but they are the needs of the day when the government and other agencies are planning better agriculture methodologies with intervening modern technologies as well. Thus, RETs for following have been thought important to consider.

RETs have been appreciated in agriculture sector for irrigation. The Solar PV Pumping has been a success in Nepal. The agriculture land remained sans irrigation facility may be added for better cultivation and crops. There are many places where farming may be carried out for multiple crops if irrigation was available. That will add production of food items and also employment enhancing economics.

Likewise, Solar Thermal driers are useful in drying foodstuffs for safe keeping and value addition. Drying of vegetable and fruits to preserve nutrient value when market price is not favourable is an easy method for the farmers to get good profit. Cold rooms run by electricity from grid or solar pv technology may and another instrument to applicate.

Regarding electricity generation by Solar PV system, agriculture and Solar farming at a single place and time is possible through Agrivoltaic method. This method allows cultivation on ground and Solar panels to install on the frames over the ground at a certain vertical distance. Experiences in other countries claim the Agrovoltaic is efficient to 80 per cent electricity by Solar PV system in comparison to normal Solar PV farming. Similarly crop yield also stand at around 80% of the normal cultivation. 

The agriculture bio-products are useful in generating energy as using for bio-gas making, and convert to fuel pallets and briquettes, for waste to energy as well.

The slurry, by-product of Bio-gas plants to use as alternatives of chemical fertilisers for healthy agro production, protection of soil quality and reduce import of chemical fertilisers. The large size bio-gas plants recently introduced bear a lot of hope on supply of bio-fertiliser in a sizable volume. But, a few such cannot address the need of entire farmers’ demand. So as the governments at all three levels need to consider constructing of 500 such large bio-gas plants to check import of chemical fertilisers which are generally not available when farmers demand to use at right time.

Bio-fertiliser, thus, can be a big industry for the country to check import and also to restore to soil quality which has been spoiled by using of chemical fertilisers for nearly sixty years (as chemical fertiliser was introduced in Nepal in 1960). These available technologies can not only uplift the income of farmers and their living quality but also support reducing the huge gaps of BOP to some extent by cutting down import of food items and chemical fertilisers as said above.

Likewise, consideration on providing modern farming technologies, quality seeds, market systems, borrowing at low interest rate are also the influential aspects other than intervention of RETs to contribute for the betterment of the farmers including attention on the reasonable level of assistance to marginalised group in the communities is also to be considered will pay back much.

Remarkably, the Government of Nepal had formulated Mechanisation in Agriculture with a focused programme and also had formed a dedicated committee for promotion of bio-fertiliser are the opportunities for RETs to introduce as appropriate technologies while R&D on the same may be carried out for the better output in terms of enhanced inputs and in terms of optimisation of technologies, resources and finance. Likewise, capacity development in RE for Agriculture may be a ‘bonus’ for the country to reduce import of food items and engage more human capital in agriculture sector in an organised and managed manner. 

The governments at all three levels in the federal governing system have realisedto prioritise agriculture products to increase and improve living quality of the farmers. They pledge possible interventions including of providing facilities of RETs to this respect. The academia, exporters and entrepreneurs as stakeholders are also putting efforts of success of the national mission on agriculture. (The Nepal Weekly)