Making money while the sun shines: Farmers in a Gujarat village are selling solar energy

Making money while the sun shines: Farmers in a Gujarat village are selling solar energy

Until three years ago, farmers in Dhundi, a village in Gujarat’s Kheda district south-east of the state’s capital city Gandhinagar, knew only one way of mechanical irrigation in their farms – using noisy and polluting diesel generators, since their village was not connected to the power grid.

Now, they are proud to have found a cheaper, noise-free and pollution-free way of irrigating their farms, using the sun’s energy. And as a bonus, they are also earning by selling the surplus energy.

The farmers use solar energy for irrigating their farms and sell the surplus energy like a cash crop to Gujarat’s power distribution company, Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd.

“Today, our village is free of noise because there are no diesel generators. It is a big relief,” Champaben, one of the village women, told Mongabay-India.

Praveen Bhai Prama, a farmer and Solar Pump Irrigators’ Cooperative Enterprise member in Dhundi who owns about one acre of land, dreamt of owning a cow for years, but could not afford one. “As I started selling electricity, I was able to buy a cow within a year. I have sold electricity worth 90,000 rupees since May 2016 and am selling milk as well. We hope to carry it on which can enable us to send our two kids to private schools in the years to come. Solar [energy] has given us hope,” Prama said.

“Irrigating our farms has now become far easier and we, now, grow vegetables such as tomato which need many irrigations,” he said.

Another farmer, Udha Bhai, said that earlier, one time irrigation would cost him Rs 250 per beegha (1.75 beegha is one acre), “but now it is free and I am also able to sell power.” He said that he has earned as much as Rs 7,000 in several months since he began selling power in 2016. “The good thing is that I didn’t have to spend a penny for earning this money,” he added.

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