Solarizing Agriculture? Barriers and Determinants of Solar Irrigation Adoption in Nepal
49 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022
Irrigation-led agricultural growth remains an important pathway for poverty alleviation in developing countries and Solar Irrigation Pumps (SIPs) provide a climate resilient, low emissions technological solution. In Nepal, the Alternate Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) has been promoting subsidized SIPs since 2016. As of early 2021, more than 2000 SIPs have been installed throughout the country. Based on the data from AEPC and qualitative field work, this paper finds that given the limited subsidy amount, SIPs could be allocated to only 21% of the total applicants. When allocating SIPs, AEPC used gender, equity and social inclusion (GESI) compatible criteria and provided a higher share of SIPs to small-scale and women farmers. However, the private sector-led demand collection process itself was not inclusive, resulting in a pool of applicants that was not representative of the diversity of farmers in Nepal. In addition, by not revising price of SIPs in line with the fast-declining market prices, AEPC ended up bearing a higher subsidy burden than was necessary. Finally, there was lack of after-sales services for SIP. Based on these findings, we recommend involvement of local governments in soliciting applications from a wider pool of farmers, periodic revision of SIP prices to reflect actual market price, and mandatory provisions of after-sales services for proper maintenance and use of SIPs.
Keywords: solar irrigation, barriers to adoption, equitable distribution, policy gaps, Nepal
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