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Alternative Energy

Irrigation and other ecological initiatives undertaken called for some level of reliable electricity. To supplement the energy availed from the AP State Board, RDT worked with the villagers in training them about alternative sources of energy.

Ananthapuram required a boost of electricity for irrigation of crops, which was limited in the region, and thus affecting the farming community. Addressing this concern, RDT introduced pump sets, driven by solar power and systems of drip irrigation, which supplied water to horticulture crops timely and efficiently. Further, the organization introduced the usage of non-conventional energy sources like biogas and smokeless stoves. These interventions by RDT boosted the income of this region and contributed towards bringing a positive change in the standards of living.

Solar pump sets

RDT introduced solar water pumps, powered by photovoltaic cells; to reduce the use of fossil fuel powered conventional electricity.

“RDT's work has been timely in the district in reversing many poor practices and educating farmers on how to be efficient in resource management.”

This establishment highly benefited the people who were living far from the grid. Initially, the photovoltaic systems were introduced to selected farmers only. These solar panels provide farmers energy to pump groundwater from bore-wells, and use it in their lands through drip irrigation systems. In this program the usage of renewable energy benefited in irrigation, but also avoided the cost of electricity for the beneficiary families.

The solar pump sets were provided only if certain pre-conditions were fulfilled; there had to be either an existing robust practice or high awareness of drip irrigation and an enthusiasm to manage the entire system. And the bore-well to be drilled would be shared amongst 3 or more households of the community. As is with other projects, RDT co-owns the project with people and they have to make some nominal contribution to get the same installed. These pre-conditions on which the sets were disbursed have added to community-building, as families commonly share bore-wells and regulate each other’s use of water, limiting wastage and, they have also become agricultural support partners.

Biogas

It was noted that villagers used firewood for cooking and other domestic needs. To bring down the dependency on wood as the sole fuel for cooking, RDT promoted the construction and usage of biogas units in the villages. Before the introduction, the people were first educated on the disadvantages of using wood.

Women were expected to procure firewood for cooking from the forests, which was a rather excruciating task; as it required long walks and heavy lifting all the way back to their homes. Additionally, the smoke from the firewood would cause respiratory issues in many women. Smokeless stoves were experimented with as a means to lighten women’s work load.

These were sourced from government agencies like NREDCAP (New and Renewable Energy Corporation of Andhra Pradesh) since the state government was also promoting the use of alternative energy. The system followed was that RDT prepared the list of target households, NREDCAP would visit premises and install the biogas shed or allot the stove/s and deliver the necessary training and RDT would release the required funds. To install a biogas plant, the household under consideration had to have at least 4 animals and 4 sq. mts. clear space, where a tank/unit would be built. Further, the tank called for 50 kilos of manure, and 50 lts. of water a day. Benefits in using biogas were aplenty.

  • It reduced deforestation
  • The waste i.e. slurry, could be used as manure and was traded to purchase fodder for cattle
  • It reduced the workload of women and they could now contribute towards more constructive work
  • It was available round the clock
  • With the usage of biogas, each family was able to save Rs. 4200 per year, cost otherwise spent on purchase of LPG cylinder.

Smokeless Stoves

RDT introduced smokeless stoves mainly for cooking purpose. These stoves are small sealed containers with wood stored inside. It required less energy than usually required to light it, and saved on wood. Being smokeless, this system also has major enviornmental and health benefits.

HIGHLIGHTS
 
STAFF SPEAK
 

The introduction of various means of alternative energy in Ananthapuram received a good response from the farmers and villagers for solar irrigation and as well as biogas and smokeless stoves. The idea of introducing these systems was very simple for RDT – to enhance villagers’ life and boost the agricultural sector of this region. These methods did not only make an impact for farmers but helped women in utilizing their resources and conserving. This gave the people a sense of confidence to be independent of the climatic situation.

R. Sathyanarayana Setty,
M.Sc. (Geology), Asst. Director, Ecology Sector

SUCCESS STORY
 

I was not getting sufficient income from groundnut cropping to sustain our family. In total I had taken nearly Rs.3,50,000 from banks, relatives and friends which I was finding difficult to pay back while feeding my family and saving for other requirements.

With information and assistance from RDT, I shifted my cropping pattern from groundnut to horticulture and vegetable crops. To reduce my costs on diesel and electricity, I also took RDT’s help to install a solar-power pump to draw water for my fields. I got nearly 26 tonnes of chillies and with my reduced costs on fuel and electricity, I got a net income of Rs.4,07,600 in a period of 6 months. Today, I have not only paid back all my loans but I have also set up a biogas plant at my home and only smokeless stoves are used for cooking. All these things have further increased my incomes. I am so thankful for the start RDT gave me, these alternative energy solutions helped me save money and enhanced our lives – Mr. Nakka Rangaiah, Utakallu village, Gooty Mandal

PARADIGM SHIFT
 

In villages, homely chores were usually taken care of by women. With alternate energy channels, they have saved significant time and energy. Womenfolk now utilize it productively towards self-improvement or improving the quality of life of the family. 

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