Policy Recommendations: The Greener Side

13th Jan 2011
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Through its programmes to develop, foster and nurture the rural potential by means of micro and small scale industries, the Indian government has extended its support to the rural masses. The government has taken many steps, like setting up of organizations such as KVIC (Khadi & Village Industries Commission), Coir Sector, etc, and programmes like Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP), Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) and National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP). Most of these programmes focus on the manufacturing sector of the rural economy. Industries such as coir, handlooms, power-looms, garments, rubber, cashew, handicrafts, food processing, sericulture, wool development, leather, pottery and other cottage industries have been benefited on massive scales through funding and modernization. Even during the global slowdown, these initiatives and programmes have yielded a positive return (courtesy: Annual Report of the Ministry of micro, small and medium industries).However, one sector that remains fairly un-touched by the policy makers is ‘Green Technology’. Green technologies hold great promise in terms of alleviating poverty and rural entrepreneurship, while contributing significantly to health improvement and environmental sustainability in the rural areas. It has the potential to provide livelihood opportunities for the poor in many developing countries in the Asian region, particularly India and China. Some of the challenges identified in promoting green technology for rural entrepreneurship include:

  • Mainstreaming of organic agriculture for farmers' better access.
  • Government support and subsidy for certification and marketing.
  • Promoting green technology through the enhancement of on-farm, field demonstrations and interactions between farmers and researchers/scientists.

Other important considerations include: improving farmers' access to sources of technology, dissemination and distribution of benefits from technology adoption, and Government’s political will to provide the right institutional framework and support services for the development and adoption of green technology.

Apart from strategizing on Green Technology, emphasis should also be given to the Green Energy segment. The policies and programmes implemented by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, have been successful in creating a large and diversified infrastructure to promote renewable energy, technologies in the country, including in the rural areas. In spite of these efforts, renewable energy is still away from the rural energy mainstream. Some of the major barriers in mainstreaming rural energy are: Lack of innovative delivery models, inadequate repair and maintenance servicing available locally, limited financing to defray the high upfront capital cost of renewable energy devices, inability to link renewable energy applications for productive end uses, and unfamiliarity of entrepreneurs to structured commercial viable proposals. Work needs to be done in context of reframing the policies, which could be subjective to regional pre-requisites.

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“Developing countries like India must work towards building sustainable organizations that not just uses green technology but also employs people at the base of the income pyramid”, Prof Stuart Hart of the Cornell University, US was quoted as saying during a conference in September 2009. Setting up avenues for exploring the Greener part of the technologies already installed or in plans for installation in the rural segments of the country, should be on top of the charts for the policy makers.

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