Magsaysay Award winner and founder-chairman of SELCO Harish Hande has said that at a time when climate change is affecting small and marginal farmers, there is a need for innovations to make small-holding farming attractive and remunerative.
Delivering an address at the 34th convocation of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, on Monday, he said that there is also a need for designing financial products to cater to the needs of women engaged in farming and other marginal farmers.
Mr. Hande said that as agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy, it needs revitalisation. And, decentralised sustainable energy will play a major role in achieving this, he added.
He said that climate change has made rainfall unpredictable and the depleting groundwater table has brought more challenges before the farmers. “More than 69% of India is dry and arid. It is facing a severe risk of droughts. Nearly 85% of rural women are engaged in labour-intensive processes such as sowing, winnowing and harvesting with limited access to technology, finance, skills and policy-making,” he said.
Mr. Hande said that there is a need for strengthening the market linkages. At the same time, ensuring environmentally sound and sustainable practices, along with and revitalisation, are a must. He told fresh graduates and post-graduates of agricultural sciences that these are solvable challenges and they should address them.
“Decentralised sustainable energy is a tool that can address many of these needs, not only in empowering them with better livelihood opportunities and healthcare services but also in enabling them with solutions that mitigate or help adapt to climate change. There is a wonderful link between development and sustainable energy. Sustainable energy interventions such as solar power can democratise the delivery of health, education and livelihood applications; all of which are critical for the poor to come out of extreme poverty,” he said.
“The beauty of solar power is that it is also modular in nature. It need not be transported across hundreds of kilometres with transmission losses, challenges of reliability and extreme weather events. Being modular and decentralised, the poor can generate their own power as per their immediate and long-term requirements, thus making access affordable,” he explained.
Mr. Hande called upon farm graduates to develop replicable models and processes that can help create a more inclusive world and also help transform society.
Welcoming the gathering, Vice-Chancellor of UAS, Dharwad, Mahadev Chetti briefed about the achievements of the university.
Governor and Chancellor Thawarchand Gehlot conferred degrees on eligible candidates and presented gold medals and prizes to meritorious students. A total of 911 candidates were conferred graduate and post-graduates degrees in various disciplines, while 63 candidates received doctoral degrees. As many as 53 gold medals were presented to 25 candidates.
Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil, deans and others were present.