About 50% of India’s rural households depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, the sector is starved of affordable and reliable energy services for productive uses. 30 million farmers use diesel groundwater pumps for their irrigation needs. High costs of diesel fuel, rental, and maintenance of US$80-120/acre each season restrict crop yields and growing seasons. 86% of farmers have landholding less than 2 ha and cannot afford alternatives, contributing to low agricultural productivity and income from farming. Further, lack of access to refrigeration facilities results in 30% of post-harvest losses and deters farmers from diversifying to high-value crops. Decentralised solar technologies such as solar water pumps and cold storages can cost-effectively meet these agricultural energy needs and play a role in diversifying and commercialising agriculture, enhancing produce shelf life and reducing waste, generating employment and increasing farmer income. However, despite governm
Oorja’s solution in this agrarian and climate crisis is to finance, install, operate and maintain community-scale decentralised solar infrastructure at the farm level and make it available to groups of farmers on a pay-per-use basis. Oorja currently offers three clean energy services: “Oonnati”, a solar irrigation service replacing diesel groundwater pumps, “Oojjwal”, a solar milling service replacing diesel mills, and “Oonnayan”, a produce refrigeration service addressing an unmet need. These innovations address the pressing need for inclusion of small-scale farmers by elimination of the upfront cost barrier, affordable tariffs and provision of timely after-sales service. As farmers transition from diesel fuel towards low-carbon solar energy, Oorja’s activities lead to a decrease in diesel fuel consumption and consequently in on-farm GHG emissions linked to irrigation and agroprocessing. Additional GHG savings result from reduction of food waste through extended produce shelf life.