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Company Feature
Published on: April 6, 2022, 2:43 p.m.
Schneider Electric: Life is on
  • SEIF has supported the installation of solar water pumps to enhance the farmers’ income

By Business India Editorial

Schneider Electric believes that ‘Access to Energy’ is a fundamental human right and it wants everyone on the planet to have access to reliable, safe, efficient, and sustainable energy. With this vision, the company is running several programmes to empower people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, both in the rural and urban milieu, for inclusive growth. 

Energy is the underlying theme for all its initiatives’ focus areas that the company calls the ‘6 Es’, which are – Employment, Entrepreneurship, Electrification, Education, Environment and Emergency. Working on these areas the company’s Foundations reaches 26 states in India, ensuring ‘Life is On’ for approximately 4.5 lakh beneficiaries. 

Through various solar-based solutions of micro-grids, solar home systems and portable solar lanterns, Schneider has been able to reach more than 45,000 households in about 900 villages, improving the lives of more than 2 lakh beneficiaries. It has also extended its solar interventions for community-based services such as schools, primary health centres, streetlights, and community resource centres. 

Solar irrigation pumps Schneider Electric India Foundation’s ‘Energy for Sustainable Livelihood’ initiative was started in economically backward districts (90 per cent of which are aspirational districts) of India with an objective to double the income of small and marginal women farmers by providing assured irrigation for two/three crops through solar irrigation pumps with community managed sustainable operational model to bring forth food security, improve agricultural practices and reduce migration. SEIF has supported the installation of 250+ solar water pumps (SWPs) in project villages to enhance access to irrigation benefitting 5,000+ farmers. 

Among the beneficiaries of the project, the case of Priska Bada is inspiring for a large number of women in Gumla Block of Jharkhand. Priska is from village Khora Toli, situated about 14 km from the district town of Gumla. Priska is aged 40 years and has two daughters aged 14 and 17 years. Priska’s family owned about 2.5 acres of land that was cultivated once a year during the rainy season.

Farming was mostly about growing paddy through conventional methods. Some parts of the land were spared for growing black gram and finger millets. The harvest was barely sufficient to meet the food requirement of the family for 6-months. Priska and her husband were compelled to migrate to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to work in brick kilns for 4-6 months every year to support their family. 

The change started when Priska along with 12 other women in her hamlet were supported by SEIF and implementation partner, PRADAN to form Self-Help-Groups under NRLM. For the first time Priska experienced the real power of collectives. They actively took part in village development plan under Yojna Banao Abhiyan of MGNREGA.

The district administration considered their plan and provided financial support under MGNREGA and other schemes to help the women raise 10 acres of mango plantation. Priska took a loan from her SHG to release a part of their land that was mortgaged to a moneylender and planted mango. She received training on improved farming practices and was taken for an exposure visit to a production cluster to see women growing various crops on commercial lines. 

In 2019, the women from Khora Jamtoli came together to form Solar User Group to set up a lift irrigation system in their hamlet. Schneider Electric India Foundation (SEIF) with implementation partner, PRADAN supported technical implementation. Irrigation had helped them grow a number of cash crops in Kharif, Rabi, and summer. However, the major thrust to farming came when a Farmer Producers Organization (FPO) was formed in Gumla.

The FPO, in the name of Gumla Mahila Kisan Swabalamban Trust (GMKST) was formed by 1,120 women in Gumla. Besides supplying high quality seedlings of vegetables, the FPO provided ploughing services with dolomite (to reduce soil acidity), fertilizers, micro-nutrients, prophylactic spraying of pesticides, weeding services etc.

The FPO supported aggregation and marketing of vegetables at the farm gate. Priska produced 1.80 MT of tomato from 25 decimals of land during Kharif. She earned Rs32,000 as net profit. She had already earned Rs16,000 by selling mangoes earlier. Her cauliflower and green pea crops are also going steady and expectedly provide her good returns. 

More than 5,000 of such farming families have been benefitted by Schneider Electric India Foundation’s ‘Energy for Sustainable Livelihood’ initiative – while reducing the carbon footprint for agriculture. 

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