CAG in association with Purpose, New Delhi, has launched an initiative to increase conversations around agriculture, solar energy, and availability of solar solutions in rural Tamil Nadu. The overall objective is to expand and increase conversations with policymakers / stakeholders and engage with farmers to build awareness and demand for DRE (distributed renewable energy). The initiative aims to help shape policies and build public awareness to accelerate renewable energy deployment, strengthen solar energy access for the poor and especially farmers, and facilitate creating opportunities for people to make best use of the technology.
The sub-objectives of the work in Tamil Nadu include the following:
- Mobilise farmers to highlight the demand for DRE solutions from them
- Create a narrative on climate resilient agriculture in the state through activations that bring voices from farmers and energy companies to the forefront
- Take stock of the existing gaps and needs of farmers and solar companies from the government in implementing solar pumps in agriculture
The estimated number of Agricultural Households in Tamil Nadu is 32.44 Lakh. Over 21 lakh agriculture pumps in the state require 3000 crore subsidy annually and require 8900 MW capacity, approximately 20% of state electricity consumption. The power supply is intermittent and still, over 4 lakh more farmers are waiting for their free connection for 15 years and are also demanding diesel subsidies for their existing pumps.
Given the context, solarisation of agricultural fields and installation of solar pumps will help in releasing some of this stress and further go a long way in promoting distributed renewable energy (DRE) solutions in the sector. Though there are some good incentives offered by the government in support of solar for farmers under different programs and schemes, the understanding and knowledge of farmers and local political leaders about these schemes is limited. Very limited efforts are made to reachout to farmers to make them aware, engage media and influencers for wider reach and supporting narrative building. From our Tamil Nadu research we know public, media and politics are key pillars to build and broaden climate solution/DRE narrative in Tamil Nadu, so with this campaign different engagement strategies for various stakeholders will be adopted to build a strong climate narrative in Tamil Nadu.