The Rockefeller Foundation, India

Power to the people

Snapshot from India

Looking at this photo of Hirdu Mandal cooling off at the irrigation pump he uses to water his rice paddy, little thought usually goes to the power needed to create this moment and the fuel required to maintain a rice farm. Water scarcity is reaching crisis status in much of India. In areas where water sources may dry up and villages do not have access to grid-based electricity, farmers often use diesel irrigation pumps to water their farms, a time-consuming process that’s often costly in agricultural production.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s initiative Smart Power for Rural Development combines the efforts of private energy service companies, local NGOs and communities to harness the power of solar and biomass to create a more sustainable, consistent energy source. Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) like Desi Power focus on renewable energy production alongside increasing local awareness of renewable energy options.

As a Desi Power customer, Hirdu powers his irrigation pump using fuel processed from biomass, a clean alternative to diesel. Farmers in areas already benefiting from the Smart Power initiative speak readily of their positive experiences in utilising this more affordable and stronger, more reliable power source to water their paddies. And the change does not stop at the rice fields. As part of a larger scheme to create inclusive development in communities, the initiative has sought to bring about greater access to healthcare, education and other economic opportunities.



Power to the people


Development, inclusivity, renewable energy


The Rockefeller Foundation


Beherbari, Araria District, Bihar, India

Camera settings

182mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/4.5

Robin Wyatt