World Environment Day: India-Sweden come together to unveil solar-powered Smart Farming for small-hold farmers

New Delhi: Small-hold farms produce one-third of our global food, yet they are among the first to be impacted by climate change and depleting water tables. On the eve of World Environment Day, India and Sweden came together to unveil a unique Smart Farm for promoting sustainable food production. Smart Farming practices and technology enables small-hold farmers to grow more food with significantly less water, and use the sun as the only power source. Importantly, the Smart Farming concept aims to address the pressing challenges of overuse of water for irrigation and reduce dependencies on fossil fuels for food production.

The Smart Farm was launched under the umbrella of bi-lateral Energy and Environment MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) signed by India and Sweden. 

Addressing the gathering, Mr Markus Lundgren, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Sweden and Head of Section for Trade, Economic, and Cultural Affairs, said, “In the past few years, water scarcity in both Sweden and India has taken centre stage. As the global temperature soars, it is further expected to intensify. Leveraging modern technologies is the only way to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.”

The Smart Farm facility is located at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) premises and utilises Spowdi’s innovative technology that is mobile and robust enough to work in tough conditions, high temperatures and muddy water. Spowdi is a Swedish green-tech engineering company, which entered the Indian market in 2019 and set up an Indian entity.

Speaking at the occasion, Ms Cecilia Oskarsson, Trade and Invest Commissioner of Sweden and Head, Business Sweden in South Asia highlighted that this (2023) is a Jubilee Year for India and Sweden as we celebrate 75 years of bilateral relations. Sweden is committed towards working with India to jointly address climate issues. Spowdi’s Smart Farm at NISE campus is an excellent example of how different actors from both countries are coming together to co-create next-gen sustainable solutions which has the potential to not only conserve precious water resources but also uplift people at the bottom of pyramid level.

​At the Smart Farm launch, Spowdi demonstrated its solar-powered, precision irrigation solution, the Spowdi Mobile Pro MKII. This 0.1 hp system has been tested for 25 LPM at 5 meter total dynamic head, at NISE a specialised and autonomous institute operating under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (Government of India). 

NISE is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the technology, assessing its performance and its capability to drip-irrigate a 400 sq. metre land area with precise water volumes and optimal pressure. The system is powered by a mobile and compact 150-watt solar panel, highlighting the system’s efficient use of renewable energy. 

In his keynote address, Shri Lalit Bohra, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, asserted that “Sustainable farming is the future of agriculture, and now is the time to act in this direction. By adopting ultra-modern technologies and eco-friendly practices, we can revolutionise the agricultural landscape.” 

The solar based micro-irrigation farm will serve as a demo farm and a valuable learning resource for institutions, agricultural universities, and farmer communities interested in learning about innovative technologies for small-hold farming. Vegetables including tomatoes, cucumber, chillies, grown at the demo farm will be utilised in the NISE canteen. 

Dr Jai Prakash Singh, Deputy Director General of NISE (MNRE), Government of India, said, “Climate change poses a threat to agriculture and Solar Energy is an important solution for sustainable agriculture. The solar based micro-irrigation Farm, introduced in collaboration with NISE, showcases a futuristic micro-irrigation system that can help deal with the challenges of watering farmland in a more efficient way.” 

Spowdi’s solar-powered technology combined with drip irrigation, distributes water directly to the plant drop by drop, helping farmers save up to 80% of water. It is a testament to the potential for small-scale farmers to enhance and diversify their yields on existing cultivated lands while significantly reducing water usage. Besides, the technology enables small-hold farmers to secure a more profitable food production system and build a greener tomorrow. 

Henrik Johansson, CEO of Spowdi says, “On the global arena today, water, sustainable farming, livelihoods for women and innovation, are on top of the agenda. We view small-hold farmers as businesswomen and businessmen who should have the opportunity to adopt innovative technologies and it this can be achieved by creating a Smart Farming ecosystem. Smart Farming methods and innovative technology can empower small-hold farmers in India, many of whom are women, to have an increased harvest, higher profitability and better livelihoods.” 

At the launch, small-hold farmers from SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) also shared their first hand experience of the Smart Farming concept and how they were able to see the increase in their harvest as compared to flood irrigation methods. 

To scale Smart Farming to tens of thousands of small-hold farmers, Spowdi in association with SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) are now inviting more partners, including industry, to be a part of the Smart Farming ecosystem. The initiative is known as the Water Drop Initiative. 

The event saw the presence of distinguished guests, including; Ms. Rupali Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer at Spowdi; Dr. Chandan Banerjee, Deputy Director General, NISE; Dr. Jai Prakash, Deputy Director General, NISE; Dr. Avadhesh Yadav, Deputy Director General, NISE; Dr. Prashant Misra, Director, NISE; Ms Richa Parmar, Deputy Director, NISE and smart farmers from Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). 

About Spowdi: 

Spowdi is a Swedish green-tech engineering company with a mission to enable millions of small-hold farmers to be self-sufficient and profitable with increased crop yields, by using significantly less water and the sun as the only power source, thereby making food production sustainable and reducing dependencies on fossil fuel. Spowdi’s patent technology – the Mobile Pro Smart Farming solution is the world’s most energy-efficient water distribution system for small-hold farming that is proven to generate higher crop yield using a faction of the water and lower operating costs compared with fossil fuel pumps. 

About NISE:

The National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) is an autonomous institute under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, established to facilitate the Research & Development, Testing, Certification, Skill Development activities in the field of Solar energy technologies NISE. NISE also supports the ministry in the implementation of the prestigious National Solar mission. The institute is committed to the development and demonstration of solar energy related technologies and its applications to the common man in the country. NISE continuously strives to improve the facilities so as to compete with the latest technological advancements. NISE is a leading research institute in India’s Solar Energy field. Development & demonstration of different types of solar energy technologies is part of long term vision of NISE. The solar-powered micro-irrigation demo farm is another step towards it.

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