Agriculture is an essential part of the Bangladesh economy. It makes up 14 percent of the GDP, and over 42 percent of the labor force in Bangladesh is involved in agriculture. The income of almost 90 percent of the population living in rural areas is dependent on agriculture.
Bangladesh has seen excellent improvement in agriculture within the past four decades, which has led to a decrease in food insecurity. However, 24.3 percent of the population was still living below the poverty line in 2016. In addition to the high rate of poverty in Bangladesh, there are many rural areas that do not have access to reliable electricity, making electric irrigation pumps difficult to use. Implementing solar irrigation in Bangladesh is providing a solution to these problems.
Irrigation Methods in India
Irrigation is an essential aspect of the agriculture industry. The transportation of water to crops is incredibly important in terms of crop yield, and the timing of the watering is crucial for many crops. The main methods of irrigation used in Bangladesh include diesel fueled irrigation and electricity fueled irrigation. However, these methods are not cost effective. Diesel fuel is expensive, difficult to transport and prone to pollution. Electric irrigation, though less harmful for the environment, is also inconsistent since it is prone to outages and not available in all areas.
A newer method of irrigation that is more reliable and cost-effective is known as solar irrigation. The use of solar irrigation in Bangladesh has been on the rise in the past few years. Solar pumps can cover several farms, and they reduce the time farmers spend ensuring that the irrigation is functioning properly when watering their fields.
Solar irrigation cuts the costs of electricity for farmers and improves their quality of life through the reduction of pollution and the increase in time that can now be spent more effectively. Solar irrigation is especially suited to Bangladesh because of the flat terrain and the high levels of sunlight throughout the country.
Funding Solar Irrigation in India
While solar irrigation in Bangladesh is a vast improvement for the agriculture industry, it is expensive to develop and put into place. This year, the Bangladesh government will receive a $20 million loan from The Asian Development Bank as part of a Power Efficiency Improvement Project as well as grant money in order to help continue their growth in solar irrigation.
This loan and grant money will help put into place over 2,000 solar-powered pumps and create off-grid solar photovoltaic (SPV) pumping, which will allow irrigation in areas where there is less access to electricity and will help replace diesel pumps, which are more difficult to maintain.
In addition to the aid from The Asian Development Bank, The World Bank is helping Bangladesh through a finance agreement that will provide $55 million in funding for the growth of renewable energy. This agreement includes supporting the creation of 1,000 solar irrigation pumps along with 30 solar mini-grids that will also greatly improve the agriculture industry by reducing carbon emissions from using diesel-fueled irrigation pumps.
The Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), an organization that was launched in 1997, is working towards financing infrastructure and renewable energy in Bangladesh. This year, 923 of the 1,024 solar irrigation pumps that have been approved by The IDCOL are already operational. The IDCOL has set a goal of installing 50,000 solar-powered irrigation pumps within the next seven years. Through the support of organizations like The Asian Development Bank and The World Bank, this goal is well underway.
Solar Irrigation Will Decrease Poverty and Help the Environment
Currently, 14 percent of the population of Bangladesh is covered by the country’s solar power program. Renewable energy is a growing part of Bangladesh, and the solar irrigation pumps that are being built will go a long way towards establishing environmentally friendly agriculture methods that will benefit people across the country.
By reducing the costs of farming, these solar power irrigation pumps will reduce poverty and increase the quality of life in Bangladesh. In fact, the vast majority of poverty reduction that occurred in the five years leading up to 2010 was spurred on by such improvements in agriculture. Solar irrigation in Bangladesh offers a new way to help the environment and change the lives of people living in Bangladesh for the better.
– Lindabeth Doby