Adaptation and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Solar Based Micro Irrigation Systems in Western India

Micro-irrigation technologies are proven to be the best solution for tackling the issues of declining water and energy resources, and low farm-level water- energy use efficiency in India. Despite several efforts from both central and state governments for the promotion of these technologies and their adoption is still away from its potential. One of the most imperative rationales for adaptation of any farm and rural technology is the cost-benefit tradeoff associated with the technology. Hence, it becomes important to conduct the cost-benefit analysis of these technologies and also explored the factors influencing the adaptation of solar-based micro-irrigation systems. As these technologies are costlier, it was necessary to check whether they are affordable for the local farming system or not? In the study we have taken the Parner Block of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra as onion growers of the area are facing crisis in water –energy domain in the summer season. Onion is the major crop cultivated in the study area and requires continuous irrigation support during the summer season. Every time, smallholders of this area face a similar problem and its impact on their income and related livelihood activities. We have conducted a theoretical cost-benefit analysis of solar-powered drip irrigation systems in this area for onion cultivation to check the economic viability of the proposed solar-powered drip irrigation system and also explore the factors affecting adaptation of Micro-irrigation systems. We have followed a suitable research design for sampling and questionnaire development for primary data collection. Various focus group discussions and extensive literature reviews have been performed to get suitable variables and a survey was conducted to collect data from 180 onion growers. A technology acceptance model based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) is used to assess different variables influencing farmer’s behavior towards the acceptance of proposed technology. It was found that a solar-powered drip irrigation system appears to be costly in the short-run but it is an economically viable log run for onion growers in this area. The result shows that performance expectancy, facilitating conditions, and cost tolerance are the determinants of the adoption of a solar-powered drip irrigation system. This study suggests that detailed information about the cost-benefits of the system should be provided to the farmers. Also, proper infrastructure and technical support are needed for the effective diffusion of the SDI system. Government interventions such as subsidy on purchase and timely loan facility to purchase the system will motivate the farmers to adopt this system.

– Mr Tushar Jagdale, ARF lab member, IIT Kharagpur