ICID, FAO-RNE study tour on Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) in India
In recent years, solar irrigation has become increasingly viable for countries as a reliable, clean-energy solution for agricultural water management, especially in areas with high-incident solar radiation. As investment costs for solar-powered irrigation systems (SPIS) are decreasing, SPIS technologies are becoming a viable option for many farmers. Towards this endeavor, FAO-RNE collaborated with ICID to organize a study tour to India for a high-level delegation from Tunisia and Egypt in January 2019. The study tour aimed to strengthen institutional capacities for the focal countries (Tunisia and Egypt) with the objective to highlight good practices, provide insights into how the potential of SPIS is realized and how risks are addressed.
As part of reconnaissance, SG Pandya and Dr. Singh visited WTC, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) as well as Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in October 2018 and were briefed by Dr. T. B. S. Rajput, Emeritus Scientist, Water Technology Centre (WTC), IARI and Dr. Neelam Patel, Incharge, Principal Scientist, Soil and Water Conservation Engineering about various projects by WTC with SPIS being the most successful, as they reduce the need for electricity to operate pressurized irrigation systems and can be easily installed in remote areas with erratic electricity supply. The technology has been tested both on the research farms of WTC as well as farmers’ fields in various states of India. Further, SG Pandya, ED Varma and Dr. Singh held an interaction with Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. - a globally emerging leader on micro irrigation systems and a direct member of ICID - for arranging a study visit to their irrigation projects on SPIS in various parts of India including community level project in Talwara district in Punjab state. The ICID officials also visited the Talwara project and interacted with the project implementation team, the local government officials and farmers who are benefitting from the project. The FAO-RNE delegation visited all the above sites and interacted with public and private functionaries at various levels and beneficiaries at the ground level.
As a part of the study tour, ICID prepared a comprehensive report on technical, financial and operational aspects of SPIS using case studies from several Indian states. Dr. Rajput contributed to the report on ‘Risks and Benefits for the Solar Powered Irrigation Systems’ based on his three decades of professional experience in the domain of micro irrigation and SPIS. The report served as the primary reference for the delegation sponsored by FAO to visit India to observe the current status of SPIS in selected Indian projects and demonstrating their applicability in other parts of the world. The draft report was further improved and finalized by Dr. Sahdev Singh and Ms. Prachi Sharma, and the final report was submitted to FAO-RNE. ANUNUAL REPORT 2018-19 ICID 79 The main outcomes of the study tour aimed to achieve the following: (i) learning from existing experiences in India to understand how to promote and regulate the use of SPIS; (ii) providing field knowledge from Indian experiences for visiting technical experts to act as multipliers of knowledge.