Photo: Mathrubhumi Archives
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Agriculture Minister P Prasad on Wednesday said efforts are on to propagate solar energy-based irrigation facilities which can phase out existing energy-intensive farming practices.
The southern State has already initiated a transformational and holistic shift to sustainable methods of cultivation, livelihood diversification, decentralised renewables and energy efficiency to help farmers survive the climate crisis, he said.
The State is preparing an action plan to help decrease energy-intensive methodologies in land preparation, adding inputs, irrigation and harvesting, the Minister said after inaugurating a two-day consultation on `Energy Transition in Agriculture Sector of Kerala,' organised jointly by Asar Social Impact Advisors and Energy Management Centre (EMC) under KSEB here.
Prasad said that food processing and value-addition processes would also be brought under renewable energy.
The State had accelerated its massive carbon neutral initiative that would help develop a better farming ecosystem, he detailed.
Warning against the sinister designs of multinational companies and interest groups which use the climate crisis and energy transition to market their equipment which aggravates the energy crisis, Prasad said the State would pay special attention to ensure that the energy transition would turn entirely beneficial to the farmers and the environment.
Kerala would explore renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuel sources to ensure that food systems are built on secure, environmentally sustainable, resilient foundations, Prasad added.
In his keynote address, food policy analyst Devinder Sharma warned all concerned against the Union government's move to use rice meant for food to manufacture ethanol, terming it as an alternative fuel source.
Even while talking about energy transition and climate resilience, India is doing things that would further aggravate the farm and climate crises, he said.
"In Punjab, the State has five lakh tractors, while its actual need was less than one lakh tractors. Such a scenario exists all across India, and they all lead to more and more use of fossil fuels. The governmental push is to reduce the number of farmers from farming and replace them with technology. Such a move will have more and more social and environmental impacts,'' he said.
Dr Ramanhaneyulu, executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, pointed out that chemical fertiliser use efficiency has decreased four times in the last 40 years. As a result, the soil demands the application of vast quantities of chemical fertilisers to get the desired yield.
"Soil has become anaemic, and the condition of plants and humans also the same,'' he said.
"A NITI Ayog report confirms that 67 per cent of soils are low carbon. He said that high population, high arable land and high irrigation make agriculture less profitable and unsustainable,'' he said.
He also wanted an integrative approach combining energy, water, climate and land-related challenges to develop resilience.
ASAR chief executive officer Vinutha Gopal said the country's agriculture sector needs transformational changes in the face of an aggressive climate crisis.
The transition must do justice to the farming community, mainly nominal farmers and agricultural workers.
Tamil Nadu planning commission member Sultan Ismail, Solar Energy Corporation general manager Bharat Kumar Reddy and EMC director R Harikumar were among the experts who addressed the consultation on the first day.
The consultation will explore the possibilities and challenges before Kerala in energy sustainability through the transition. Recommendations would be submitted to Electricity and Agriculture Departments.