The Chakhaji Model in Bihar, India - Catalyzing ‘Buyer-Friendly’ Solar Irrigation Service Markets 

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solar irrigation business model underground pipe groundwater agriculture


17 June 19


Bangladesh, India, Nepal

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In Chakhaji village of Samastipur district in Bihar, IWMI, CCAFS and AKRSP-I (Aga Khan Rural Support Program, India) have supported seven solar irrigation entrepreneurs to install 5 kWp solar pumps along with a network of buried water distribution pipes. A financial model under which the entrepreneurs have to pay a fixed lease amount each year to take full ownership of the asset over a period of 5 years exerts pressure on the entrepreneurs to maximize returns from the asset by operating it throughout the year to sell irrigation service to farmers in the village.
IWMI has argued that such a model of promoting solar entrepreneurs is significantly more efficient in delivering reliable and affordable irrigation to the largest number of farmers as opposed to its current model of offering 90% capital subsidy on small 1-3 kWp stand-alone solar pumps. The Government of Bihar’s BRLPS (Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society) is actively considering scaling up the experiment to 10, and eventually 100 villages over the next few years. This too will entail some technical, economic and institutional challenges in designing an accessible, transparent and supportive policy environment but the model lends itself to scale replication in much of the groundwater-abundant but energy-scarce Gangetic plains of eastern India, Nepal Terai and Bangladesh.

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