The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The gov­ern­ment has not an­nounced any fi­nanc­ing scheme through com­mer­cial banks for pro­mot­ing so­lar-run tube wells af­ter lapse of a month which seems neg­li­gence of the pol­i­cy­mak­ers which also failed to bring ad­vance­ment in agri­cul­ture sec­tor with the sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive last year.

Yes it is cor­rect that a pol­icy state­ment has been made by the gov­ern­ment in the Fi­nance Act, said Ina­mur Rah­man, CEO Reon Energy So­lu­tions, we are still to see ex­actly how this will be ad­min­is­tered.

In the past, gov­ern­ments have made sim­i­lar an­nounce­ments but things have not fol­lowed through. We are all hop­ing that this time the scheme will ac­tu­ally be put in place to ben­e­fit the Pak­istani farmer.

In the Fi­nance Act, the gov­ern­ment pro­posed to pro­vide in­ter­est free loans for set­ting up new so­lar tube wells or re­plac­ing the ex­ist­ing tube wells with so­lar tube wells. The scheme was pro­posed mainly to fa­cil­i­tate the small grow­ers and to re­duce heavy ex­pen­di­ture in­curred on diesel/elec­tric­ity tube wells

Un­der this scheme it is pro­posed to pro­vide in­ter­est free loans for 30,000 tube wells in the next 3 years. All farm­ers with land­hold­ings up to 12.5 Acres will be el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for this loan. In case the num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions in any one year is more than 10,000 the ben­e­fi­cia­ries will be se­lected through trans- par­ent bal­lot­ing.

Af­ter in­stalling so­lar tube well, a farmer us­ing diesel en­gine for five hours a day will save Rs.1660 per day and a farmer us­ing elec­tric pump for five hours a day will save Rs.466 per day in run­ning costs.

It was sug­gested that against a de­posit of Rs.100,000 the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide in­ter­est free loans through the com­mer­cial Banks. The in­ter­est on these loans will be picked up by the gov­ern­ment.

It is es­ti­mated that the cost of half cusec so­lar tube well may be up to Rs 1.1 mil­lion. Ina­mur Rah­man sug­gested that diesel re­place­ment has a pay­back pe­riod of 2 years or less, while elec­tric pump would be closer to 6 years (only if elec­tric­ity is avail­able).

It is ad­vised farm­ers to look at a pay­back pe­riod of 3 years. Then there are plenty of other tech­ni­cal mat­ters in­volved i.e. the depth of the wa­ter ta­ble, the dy­namic and static head of wa­ter, the kind of crops that are be­ing grown, ir­ri­ga­tion pat­terns and prac­tices, the size of the farm and farmer and the abil­ity to ac­tu­ally pay it back - etc. The cost of the tube well at Rs 1.1 mil­lion is ad­e­quate for a half cusec sys­tem. The chal­lenge would be to main­tain qual­ity and pro­vide af­ter sales sup­port.

The real ben­e­fits for the farmer are con­trol over wa­ter com­pared to canal fed ir­ri­ga­tion as the avail­abil­ity of wa­ter for al­most 300 or more days a year can grow more crops be­cause of avail­abil­ity can look at things like drip ir­ri­ga­tion and tun­nel farm­ing, he added.

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