Drone use has a tremendous potential in consistent and efficient crop management

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12 April 2022, Anantapur: Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) visited the SRFMT&TI Anantapur last week and attended a Drone demonstration with farmers. 

Dr. Likhi informed that the drone technology in agriculture has a tremendous potential in increasing consistency and efficiency of crop management, besides reducing the cost and also reducing the human exposure to hazardous working conditions. In the Union Budget 2022-23, the Government has already announced that the use of Kisan Drones will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records, spraying of insecticides and nutrients.

Looking into the unique advantages of Drone technologies in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) has brought out Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use of drones in pesticide and nutrient application that provides concise instructions for effective and safe operations of drones. 

To promote use of drones in agriculture and make drone technology affordable to the farmers and other stakeholders of this sector, financial assistance @ 100 % cost of drone together with the contingent expenditure is extended under Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) to the Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, Institutions of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) for its demonstration on the farmer’s fields. 

Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) are provided grants @ 75% for purchase of drones for its demonstration on the farmers’ fields. 

In order to provide agricultural services through drone application, financial assistance @ 40% of the basic cost of drone and its attachments or Rs.4 lakhs, whichever less is also provided for drone purchase by existing and new Custom Hiring Centers (CHCs) under Cooperative Society of Farmers, Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Rural entrepreneurs. The agriculture graduates establishing CHCs are eligible to receive financial assistance @ 50% of the cost of drone up to a maximum Rs.5.00 lakhs.

The subsidized purchase of agriculture drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs will make the technology affordable to them, resulting in their widespread adoption. This would make drones more accessible to the common man in India and will also significantly encourage domestic drone production.

Demonstration of various improved agricultural machines was also witnessed by Dr. Likhi and while interacting with the farmers, he briefed on the agricultural mechanization interventions undertaken by the Department under Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM),  which is being implemented through the State Governments with the major objectives of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions where availability of farm power is low and promoting ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership. Under this Scheme, in order to make machines and equipments affordable to the farmers, financial assistance @ 40% to 50% of the cost depending on the categories of farmers, is provided under SMAM for purchase of agricultural machines.  

Financial assistance @ 40% of the project cost is also provided to rural youth & farmer as an entrepreneur, Cooperative Societies of Farmers, Registered Farmers Societies, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Panchayats for establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) and Hi-tech hubs of high value agricultural machines. Financial assistance @ 80% of the project cost for the projects costing up to Rs. 10 Lakhs is provided to the Cooperative Societies, Registered Farmer Societies, FPOs and Panchayats for setting up of village level Farm Machinery Banks (FMBs). The rate of financial assistance for the North Eastern States for establishment of FMBs is @95% of the project cost for the projects costing up to Rs. 10 lakhs.

During his visit, he interacted with the Director and staff of the institute and undertook visit to the various training and testing laboratories including the Power Tiller Testing facilities for which the institute has been identified as testing authority in the country. He appreciated the infrastructure developed by the institute and the great work being done by the institute for promotion of agricultural mechanization particularly catering to the requirements of the Southern States. 

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