new energy for agriculture


Energy for Poor People from Biogas



Most of the people who live on North Channel, a small island in Bangladesh, work in the fields growing rice, grain and fruit and vegetables. During the dry season (April and May) the level of the rivers and canals falls drastically and the farmers must work harder and consume more energy to bring the little water that there is to the fields. Diesel oil is the fuel that is used most in agriculture, but its ever increasing cost makes things very difficult for these farmers.

There are around 300 biogas plants on the island, most of which are either not used or require maintenance. The NGO, Practical Action, is promoting the use of biogas, by underlining its benefits for farmers because it can provide low-cost energy. The project is very simple and consists of converting traditional diesel engines into hybrid diesel oil and biogas powered engines to provide irrigation. Milon Bepari and his wife Sabina Begum are farmers and thanks to the diesel engine conversion project, today they use an engine which is powered primarily by biogas instead of diesel oil. With biogas energy they can now irrigate their lands during the dry season. “All farmers need this type of engine”, said Milon. Using diesel oil as the main fuel for the engine costs around 70-80 taka (approximately 1 USD) per litre, but if I use biogas with the same engine, I spend only 10-12 taka. And then if I produce it with my own domestic biogas plant, this fuel is completely free!”.

It is estimated that with sufficient funds from government, NGOs and microfinance institutes, this type of system can be rolled out on a large scale and help farmers to obtain greater value from their labour. Over five years it could be installed in 50,000 dwellings with benefits for more than 500,000 people.

Practical Action NGO