India RegionMechanization and Technology

Apples being transported through drones in Himachal’s Kinnaur valley

21 December 2022, New Delhi: Apple growers in isolated and difficult-to-reach parts of the tribal Kinnaur district are about to experience a new revolution as drone delivery of apples becomes a reality.

The Vegrow apple procurement agency worked with Skyeair to successfully test the transportation of 20 kg apple boxes, which were transported over a distance of 12 km from an orchard to the main road in about six minutes, in Rohan Kanda village, Nichar Block, Kinnaur District.

In November, a trial lift of apple boxes was conducted to evaluate its viability, battery life, and rotation duration as well as the load it could raise in one revolution. Currently, work is being done on the cost issue. In charge of Vegrow, Dinesh Negi said, “Our objective is to lift roughly 200 kg in one go to make the transportation inexpensive for the apple growers. We are hoping that the profitable model would be adopted by the next season.

According to Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur, Abid Hussain Sadiq, the transaction is between the private company and the orchardists, but financial feasibility has been determined and the administration will help the company obtain the necessary licences and other approvals.

The twin villages of Rohan Kanda and Chota Kanda in the Nichar region of Kinnaur are not connected by a road, thus the apple boxes must be transported there on foot in groups of no more than three (90 kg). Due to the hilly terrain, it takes over four hours to complete one round, and a coolie (labourer) can only complete three rounds in a day, according to apple grower Manoj Mehta from Nichar. He added that because the process is time-consuming, the freshness of the fruit is compromised and labour shortage is another issue.

In the district, apples are grown on 10,924 hectares. The movement of apples from the lower regions of Kinnaur begins at the end of August, although the majority of the movement occurs between October 15 and November 15.

The number of boxes produced this year was 40.83 lakh as opposed to 24.33 lakh in 2021, 36.64 lakh in 2020, 28.43 lakh in 2019, and 30.83 lakh in 2018. According to representatives from the Kinnaur agriculture department, one crate holds 20 kg of apples.

According to Mukesh Repaswal, the managing director of the Himachal Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd. (HPSEDC), the cost to transport five kilogrammes for one kilometre has been set at Rs. 45 and ten kilogrammes at Rs. 55.

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