Off-grid solar for Himalayan food chains

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Using off-grid solar-powered devices is a technically viable way to automate and improve food production processes across the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, according to IRENA. The agency and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) recently published their findings in “Decentralised Solar Electricity for Agri-food Value Chains in the Hindu Kush Himalaya Region.”

The study identifies PV-powered solutions to power key food value chains across the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. The four food value chains considered are buckwheat, yak milk, potato, and vegetables like gundruk.

For example, the report suggests using a 900 Wp solar-powered portable irrigation pump for buckwheat cultivation, which the study estimates would have a total cost of $2,000. Other PV-powered solutions include agricultural insecticide sprayers, cold storage units, and potato grading machines.

The report finds that the solutions would be technically viable, “based on the requirements and analysis of the value chains studied.” The authors claim that this conclusion “is reaffirmed by similar solutions being employed in other parts of the world.” The commercial viability of deploying these solutions, on the other hand, would “depend on government and public sector support in the form of concessional loans, tax credits and subsidies to encourage private sector investment,” according to the report.

The report makes a range of recommendations to promote the deployment of decentralized solar PV solutions in remote mountain communities, in order to guide national and sub-national planning.

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