Andhra Pradesh

Solar-powered agriculture pays dividends

Counting gains: Onion being harvested from a solar-powered farm at Bobbepalli in Prakasam district.

Counting gains: Onion being harvested from a solar-powered farm at Bobbepalli in Prakasam district.   | Photo Credit: KommuriSrinivas

Shade-net technique fetches premium price for farmers’ hybrid produce

Even as the average farmer struggles to cope with the ever-increasing cost of inputs on the one hand and the un-remunerative price for their produce, enterprising farmers in and around Martur in drought-prone Prakasam district have taken to solar-powered agriculture coupled with micro irrigation system in a big way to make handsome gains.

The farmers, who have been traditionally growing country vegetables such as brinjal, ladies’ fingers, bitter gourd, broad beans, cluster beans, have also adopted shade-net technique for higher yields and fetch a premium price for their hybrid produce such as the European cucumber and capsicum with seeds imported from the Netherlands.

They used to spend about ₹16,000 per acre on diesel earlier for energising their pumpsets. Now they get quality power for eight hours a day with a capital investment of just ₹50,000 per unit thanks to the government subsidy of ₹4.50 lakh. They also need not go to their farms in the dead of the night as was the practice earlier, say a group of enterprising farmers from Bobbepalli village, tucked away from the Chennai-Kolkata highway.

“'There is no marketing problem for these vegetables as they have longer shelf life and better freshness,” they say in a conversation with The Hindu.

The farmers from the village have tied up with traders in the Koyambedu wholesale market in Chennai to market the hybrid vegetables, including carrot, beetroot and onions, tomato grown with the help of solar-powered pumpsets through a network of micro-irrigation system to grow more crop for every drop of water with water soluble fertilizers.

“On harvesting, we send the vegetables to Chennai, 350 km away and payments are credited online to our bank account on delivery,” says a happy farmer D. Srinivasa Rao as he monitors his 30-acre farm on his CCTV.

They sell the vegetables locally when prices are almost the same in the Martur market, from where they are marketed by wholesale traders in different parts of the country, adds another farmer J. Haribabu.

D. Anjaneyulu, a product of a Business school in Visakhapatnam, has taken to farming as his profession at a time when his peers shied from agriculture in view of the uncertain returns.

“The returns are very much encouraging. But one has to toil and also do a smart work as well,” says the young farmer who has installed a high-value shade net for ensuring ideal agro-climatic condition for improved productivity. They have also adopted water conservation techniques to retain every drop of rain water, adds yet another farmer J. Bullaiah.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:04:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/solar-powered-agriculture-pays-dividends/article22486716.ece

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