Is India’s milk sector all set for a solar revolution? Indian Government has huge plans for the milk industry in the upcoming years – shifting its power dependence entirely to solar energy is in the works. An upfront 30% subsidy is to be announced for the milk sector – from dairy farmers to processors, the policy for which is expected to be officially announced at the earliest. The happy news came from Dilip Rath, the chairman of National Dairy Development Board, on 9th of January 2019, Wednesday. He added that the Ministry of New and Renewable energy will be providing the subsidy.
India’s ‘Milk’ history
Dairy farming is India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment generator today. The milk sector runs on a highly successful co-operative business model – the producers and milk processors act as stakeholders in this collectivized model of dairy farming. It hadn’t always been this way – thanks to the ‘White Revolution’ under the able leadership of Verghese Kurien, which lifted millions out of poverty through the power of cooperative movement, India grew from a milk-deficient nation to the world’s largest milk producer in a matter of 30 years, from 1970 to 2000. This inspirational story of social entrepreneurship and cooperative movement acts as a remedial alternative against mass production – that production by masses can build such a functional and profitable business model while sharing the profits more democratically amongst all, the prodigious potential of people’s power being realized through people’s own institutions.
How the solar subsidy scheme will function
The first phase of the transition aims to bring down the sector’s power consumption from conventional sources, which are electricity and diesel, by 25%. The added incentive for farmers to go solar would be their being able to sell back surplus power to the grid, earning them more profits. That the plants would produce more energy than the farmers would consume is certain, for it has been proven by Dhundi’s Solar Pump Irrigators Cooperatives Enterprise, world’s first solar cooperative for irrigation in Gujarat.
National Dairy Development Board aims to transition the entire milk chain into solar power. District-level milk unions, equipped with the subsidy, will install solar power plants for dairy farmer households. Milk cooperatives that collect and process milk supplies are also eligible for the subsidy.
Why transition to solar?
At present, relying on conventional power causes many a problem in the dairy industry. The frequent power outages disrupt the processing and deteriorate the quality of milk. Solar power, in addition to being a reliable source of power in India’s sunny climate, would also empower them to earn money by selling surplus power back to the grid.
The government aims to dovetail the programme with the KUSUM scheme ( Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyaan ), the ₹1.4 lakh crore project that aims to promote solar power among India’s farmers to be launched in February 2019.