Solar lift irrigation helps Gumla farmers move away from diesel pump sets


More than 200 farmers in three blocks of the Jharkhand district went the green way to reduce dependance on monsoon rains.

Farmers in Jharkhand’s Gumla district depended heavily on erratic monsoon rains and pump sets running on expensive diesel to irrigate crops — until recently when solar lift irrigation gave cultivation a much-needed sustainable push.

For the first time, more than 200 farmers in Palkot, Kamdara and Basia blocks of the district went the green way and cultivated watermelons through motor pumps run on solar energy.

Sunita Barla, a farmer from Kamdara’s Arhara village, said she cultivated watermelon on five acres. Diesel pump sets were expensive and for irrigating one acre, 10 litres of diesel had to be used, she added.

“The solar pump is switched on at 8 am. We get to use it till the sun sets,” she said.

Inter-state supply was hampered due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown and produce could not be sent to Rourkela in Odisha or Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh.

“Consumption, too, has plummeted. Big markets in Ranchi are shut,” Rao said. He pointed to dwindling earnings, but added that the solar lift project helped farmers increase the yield.

Swarnima Ekka from Palkot’s Satkhari village cultivated watermelons on one acre. The yield was good, but selling the produce difficult, she said. Ekka managed to sell 2,500 kg of watermelons so far.

Sudhir Indwar from Marda village, on the other hand, has one acre of land and grew watermelons on 50 decimals. He pays Rs 20 per hour to use solar lift irrigation and finds it to be a great alternative to diesel.

Erratic rains in the past few days prevented ripening of watermelons, even though the yield per acre was a 20 tonnes, said Ankit Tandon who looks after team activities in Kamdara block.

Farmers grew watermelons covering 100 acres (40.46 hectares) across seven sites in these blocks. In Palkot block, six installations benefitted farmers of three villages. Three structures were erected in Satkhari village; two in Marda village and one in Gurma village.

Source: Down To Earth