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Solar powered pumps: A cost-effective solution for irrigation

Historically, the economy of Bangladesh has been highly dependent on agriculture. Today agriculture represents about 16.33% of the country’s GDP and employs 47% of the labour force [Source: Labour Force Survey (2010)].

Given the energy scenario of Bangladesh, irrigation, the main input of agriculture serves to be a major challenge in many parts of the country. 

Since electrification is still a challenge, a majority of irrigation pumps are diesel-driven. However, increased use of diesel in irrigation pumps has economic as well as environmental impacts. Solar run irrigation pumps address this issue.

The technology is causing a revolution in how irrigation for agricultural purpose is being conducted in remote locations of Bangladesh. As the name suggests, solar irrigation pump systems use solar energy to run water pumps and ensures uninterrupted supply of electricity all year round. 

This is enabling the farmers to produce a wider variety of crops throughout the year which in turn is contributing towards crop diversification and food security.

With a view to realize its millennium development goal of ensuring electricity for all by 2021, Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is keen to introduce solar irrigation pump technology by replacing diesel pumps.

Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) being a government owned development financial institution has been assigned the task to promote solar irrigation system in Bangladesh.

 

 

Year-wise installation of IDCOL financed Solar Irrigation pumps

Division-wise location of IDCOL financed Solar Irrigation Pumps

Accordingly IDCOL started solar irrigation program with a view to provide irrigation facility to farmers in off-grid areas of the country at an affordable rate.

Till date, IDCOL has approved financing for 449 solar irrigation pumps out of which 205 are already in operation and 244 are under construction. Present program of IDCOL has a target to finance 1,500 solar irrigation pumps by 2018.

The World Bank, KfW, GPOBA, JICA, USAID, ADB and Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) are supporting this initiative. Through offering concessionary financing and grant support, IDCOL has been able to devise and promote solar irrigation projects that would ensure financial and environmental sustainability, technical feasibility as well as affordability for the rural farmers.

In our move towards becoming a middle income country by 2021, solar powered irrigation pumps can play an important role by playing its part in ensuring food and energy security of the country.

In this regard, the role played by the government, the donor agencies and the organizations undertaking such projects is highly commendable.

Md. Enamul Karim (Pavel), Head of Renewable Energy, Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL).

 

 

 

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