Cotton Spinning Work Becomes Easier And Affordable With Solar Power Usage

A traditional cotton weaver who works from home in her northern Indian village, Anita Devi has long been resigned to aching hands, meager income, and an unrelenting struggle to make a living. 

But her life changed in 2019 when the mother-of-two received a solar-powered spinning wheel, or charkha, as part of a campaign by the state of Uttar Pradesh to boost muscle growth. employment opportunities and raise the income of rural women in an environment-friendly way. 

Solar Charkhas – which have 12 pins, double the number on Anita’s old wheels – come with a motor and battery, and come with a 400-watt solar panel. 

Anita, 34, produces up to 1.5 kg of cotton yarn per day using her Solar Charkha, compared to the 400 grams she spins with a traditional wheel, her monthly income has quadrupled – now averaging at least 10,000 rupees ($126). 

 “Thanks to the extra income, we can afford better food, health care, and even school fees for my children,” Anita told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at her home in the village of Phoolpur, Moradabad district. 

Anita is one of about 4000 women from villages in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state and one of the poorest – who have been trained in how to use and use solar Charkhas. sky in recent years at the initiative of the state government. 

 Off-grid solar applications can adapt well to the specific needs of the region and penetrate every corner of the distant land. 

Shyam Dhar Dubey, Senior Project Officer, New and Renewable Energy Development Authority of Uttar Pradesh Today, Uttar Pradesh is turning to solar energy to power businesses, homes and businesses. families and communities, with an increasing focus on those who are not connected to the network. 

 Since 2018, Rs 50,000 solar Charkhas have been distributed free of charge to around 1,000 women a year in Uttar Pradesh by Khadi and Village Industries Board (UPKVIB) of the state. 

 Many women work from home, while others do it in production centers in their villages, run by local nonprofit associations. 

 Millions of people across India – mostly women from marginalized communities – work in textiles from home, but tend to go unnoticed and miss out on minimum wages and benefits. 

 Navneet Sehgal, additional secretary of UPKVIB, says that persuading rural and “patriarchal” households to allow women to participate in Solar Charkha training at first proved a challenge – but emphasizes that the project is thriving after a slow start. 

 “It’s gratifying to see their numbers grow – in terms of how they work with more confidence, higher self-esteem and more say in running their homes,” he added. 

solar power
Weavers from Sandoli village pose for a photo in Uttar Pradesh, India, May 25, 2022. Greenwear/Handout via Thomson Reuters Foundation

Solar Chains 

The project in Uttar Pradesh follows a separate 2018 national program, “Mission Solar Charkha”, with the aim of providing the wheels to create jobs for up to 100,000 people – from spinners to tailors – in 50 regions or “clusters” across India. 

 In Uttar Pradesh’s independent program, solar charkha is distributed through a number of grassroots non-profit organizations. 

 One of them, Avad Yuva Kalyan Gramudyog Sansthan, also pays the women for the yarn they provide and has it woven into khadi – a traditional hand-pulled fabric – by other women in the network. hers before the items are completed and then resold. 

 “These women are more aware these days – whether it’s about… group savings, helping each other in times of crisis, or sharing a line or two about the importance of solar energy. heaven in their lives,” said founder Anil Kumar Singh. 

 UPKVIB says it provides financial support to these organizations to ensure sustainability in their products and also helps them display and sell their products at events across the country. 

Local clothing companies such as Greenwear Fashion are also playing a role in training and recruiting hundreds of women to use not only solar-powered fabrics but looms and sewing machines as well. , as well as wholesale “solar wire”. 

 “It’s not just about making money, our business also has to have a sustainable price to keep the environment clean,” says Abhishek Pathak, founder of social enterprise, who praises his value chain entirely focused on solar energy, said. 

 Rabia Khatoun, a weaver hired by the company during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown and equipped with a solar-powered loom at a production center she runs in the village of Sarthara, says she has grown double productivity – and income – thanks to Equipment. 

 “Greenwear recruited me during this time of crisis, trained me on how to use a solar loom, and made it possible for me to feed myself and my family,” adds Khatoun, who says now she earns between 10,000 and 12,000 rupees per month


Off-Grid Pulse 

 It’s not just cotton spinners and weavers who are benefiting from solar power in Uttar Pradesh. 

 Owners of small businesses, including oil and rice plants and a restaurant, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation they received a boost from solar after using bank loans. government-backed start-ups, backed by UPKVIB, to fund their businesses. 

 In the village of Purey Udai, Gonda district, Sangita Devi’s restaurant runs on 5-kilowatt solar panels that power lights, five fans, a refrigerator, and a submersible pump that sucks in groundwater. 

 “My electricity bill is less than half, and without the extra cost of diesel I couldn’t ask for more,” she said, explaining that her profits have since more than doubled since. 

 The Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Authority (UPNEDA) says it has installed around 700 megawatts (MW) of off-grid solar capacity. Its total statewide solar capacity is 2,200 MW. 

 This off-grid installation includes lighting for 60,000 homes in a dozen villages with difficult access to the grid, 300,000 street lights, and 20,000 sets of irrigation pumps for farmers. 

 “Off-grid solar applications can adapt well to the specific needs of the region and penetrate any niche of remote terrains,” said Shyam Dhar Dubey, project manager at UPNEDA said. 

 However, Dubey says the high maintenance costs of solar panel systems can be a barrier to their long-term durability. 

Story adapted from Thomson Reuters Foundation

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