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The country inherited a stagnant agriculture at the time of Independence. The traditional tools and implements relied mostly on human and animal power and used a negligible amount of commercial energy. However, successive governments realized the importance of agriculture and initiatives were taken for the growth of this sector. Increased investment in irrigation infrastructure, expansion of credit, marketing, and processing facilities (http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/planrel/fiveyr/10th/volume2/v2_ch5_1.pdf), therefore, led to a significant increase in the use of modern inputs.

Till the 1950s, use of tractors for agriculture was very limited. Tractor manufacturing in India started in 1961 with aggregate capacity to manufacture 11 000 tractors. Joint efforts made by the government and private sector have led to steady increase in the level of mechanization over the years.

Given that rains are not always timely and evenly distributed, farmers prefer pump sets as a more reliable and assured source of irrigation; as a result, energization of pump sets have been increasing rapidly. As on 31 March 2004, 14.1 million pump sets had been energized. Maharashtra has the maximum number of energized pump sets (2.4 million), followed by Andhra Pradesh (2.3 million). Earlier, the average capacity of the pump sets was 3.68 kW and a pump set on an average consumed 6004 kWh of electricity in that year (Central Electricity Authority, 2005). However, owing to insufficient electricity supplies, some farmers have also procured diesel pump sets as a standby. In the recent past, concerted efforts of the government has led to an introduction of biomass and solar photovoltaic based pumping systems

As a result of increased mechanization in agriculture, crop production and rural agro processing emerged as one of the major consumers of commercial energy. The share of mechanical and electrical power in agriculture increased from 40% in 1971/72 to 84% in 2003/04. The availability of farm power per unit area (kW/ha) has been considered as one of the parameters of expressing the level of mechanization. Power availability for carrying out various agricultural operations has increased from 0.3 kW/ha in 1971/72 to the tune of 1.4 kW/ha in 2003/04 (http://indiabudget.nic.in/es2004-05/chapt2005/chap814.pdf).

Connected load in the agriculture sector in 2004 was estimated to be 51.84 GW, the number of consumers being 12.8 million. The electricity consumption in agriculture during 2003/04 was 87 089 GWh (second highest)?24.13% of the total electricity consumption. There was an increase of 3.08% in the electricity sales to the agriculture sector in 2003/04 over 2002/03 (CEA 2005). Electricity consumption in agriculture sector has been increasing mainly because of greater irrigation demand for new crop varieties and subsidized electricity to this sector. Moreover, due importance is not given to proper selection, installation, operation, and maintenance of pumping sets, as a result of which they do not operate at the desired level of efficiency, leading to huge waste of energy.

Agriculture (plantation/food) consumed 7 123 thousand tonnes of HSD (high-speed diesel) in 2003/04, accounting for 19.2% of the total HSD consumption during the year. Consumption of LDO (light diesel oil) and furnace oil for plantation in 2003/04 was 44 000 and 243 000 tonnes, respectively, accounting for 2.7% of the total LDO and 2.9% of the total furnace oil consumed in the country. Consumption of furnace oil for transport (agriculture retail trade) in the agriculture sector was 94 thousand tonnes (Ministry of Power and Natural Gas 2004). However, it is difficult to assess the total diesel consumption for agriculture from the available data.

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