24 November 2021, Hyderabad: Bayer, a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of healthcare and agriculture, conducted its first drone trial today at its multi-crop breeding center in Chandipa, near Hyderabad. The on-ground event, showcasing a field demonstration on the use of drones in agricultural operations, was attended by eminent partners and industry stakeholders, including representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar also shared a message on this occasion.
The agriculture landscape is evolving rapidly, yet India’s smallholder farmers continue to face several challenges. These include labour shortages, low productivity, limited access or know-how to mechanize the agricultural processes, in addition to environmental challenges like unpredictable weather fluctuations. Adopting digital technologies, such as drones, can help overcome these obstacles and support more targeted applications of insect, weed and disease-control products. This ensures correct dosage and also limits the risk of accidental exposure to chemicals. Besides, drones also offer real-time agronomic advisory to farmers, enhancing farm productivity and fostering sustainability.
Bayer has been working closely with the Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Civil Aviation, industry bodies, regulators, policymakers and drone manufacturers over the last few years to introduce a conducive policy framework for the implementation of drone technology in Indian agriculture. With the recent encouraging announcement made by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, all stakeholders related to the segment are eagerly looking forward to the swift adoption of drone technology. Bayer has now secured approvals to conduct R&D and agriculture spraying operations to make the drone technology available for smallholders.
The Hon’ble Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar in his message said, “I’m really happy to learn that Bayer is organizing a pilot project on the use of drones in agriculture. India is making giant strides in technology and digitalization and adopting these for enhancing agricultural purposes is a step forward in our efforts to provide a strong impetus to farmers’ prosperity. Usage of drones in agriculture will revolutionize farm operations and empower our farmers especially the smallholders with information and applications that will help them enhance their yields and income in the long run. I appreciate Bayer’s efforts in early adoption of this technology for the growth and transformation of agriculture in India and convey all my good wishes.”
“The Ministry of Civil Aviation appreciates the importance of drone technology in nation building. It has been the Government’s endeavor to create a liberalized policy framework that facilitates more participation by industry, academia and startups. This collaboration will create solutions at the grassroot level. We look forward to seeing the commercial application of agri-drones for the betterment of our farmers”, said Mr. Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India.
D. Narain, CEO & Managing Director, Bayer CropScience Limited said, “With a legacy of 125 years in India, we are committed to enhancing access to sustainable digital farming solutions, enabling greater operational efficiency to ultimately enhance smallholder farmers productivity and income. Drone applications are operating in other small farmer countries in Asia and have the potential to deliver significant value to smallholders in India, as well as for the economy and the planet. We are proud of the results of our drone trial in Hyderabad. It showcases the potential of the future of farming and we are grateful to play a role in bringing a positive, revolutionary change to this vital agriculture sector in India.”
Bayer has partnered with innovative drone startup, General Aeronautics Pvt. Ltd. and conducted several in-house and external R&D trials with universities and central research institutions to generate data to make drone-based services available to farmers.
Based on the initial achievements of drone farming, growers may be able to explore the technology’s capabilities in aiding paddy, corn, sugarcane, wheat, vegetables, fruits and plantation crops and harvests in the future. Such innovations can shape the roadmap of sustainable farming in India, while spurring smallholder support and food security.