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    Centre offers farm drones cheap under new scheme to spur adoption

  • Date : 16 May, 2022

     A range of incentives has opened up India’s vast agriculture sector for commercial use of drones. New federal guidelines for a scheme called Kisan Drone have provisioned substantial subsidies for farmers and organisations alike for unmanned aerial vehicles. 

     
    Drones could prove transformative, making farming smart and efficient, although experts say the costs involved are still high and prohibitive for smallholders. 
     
    Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday launched a drone experience studio at the state-run think tank NITI Aayog. He unveiled two policies — Drone Shakti and Kisan Drone. The former seeks to spur adoption in non-farm sectors. 
     
    Technology should be welcomed in a country where farm incomes are low, about one-third of those of non-agricultural households. Yet, those actually using advanced technologies are less than 1%. 
     
    In manufacturing, technology has spread fast, a process called technology diffusion, data show. This is the reason why, according to the World Bank’s estimates cited by its president Jim Yong Kim in a 2016 speech, automation threatens 69% of today’s jobs in India. 
     
    In agriculture, however, innovation is still bottled up at the top. The Kisan Drone scheme seeks to augment drone usage in three areas: land mapping, spraying of crop nutrients and remote monitoring of crops, an official said. 
     
    Farmers’ producer organizations would be eligible to receive grant up to 75% of the cost of the drone for forward demonstrations. The government will also offer ?6,000 per hectare to implementing agencies that do not want to purchase drones, but will hire drones for demonstrations. These grants for promotion drone technologies will be available till March 31, 2023, the official said, seeking anonymity. 
     
    “A standard agriculture drone costs between ?8-10 lakh. These steps have made the purchase of agricultural drones nearly free for leading agri-research and agri-training institutions,” said Smit Shah, president of the Drone Federation of India, an apex body. 
     
    Drone hiring centres will also receive special funding to provide agricultural services through drones. This includes 40% of the basic cost of drone and its attachments, or ?4 lakh, whichever is lower. To be eligible for the cash, hiring centres and hi-tech hubs would have to be established by cooperative societies of farmers and rural entrepreneurs. 
     
    Graduates in agricultural sciences can establish hiring centres and will be eligible to receive 50% of the basic cost of a drone. 
     
    The new incentives would help power new technologies in the country’s antiquated farm sector, which supports half of all Indians, according to the Drone Federation. 
     
    “2021 saw technology go closer to the ground with upstream agritech deals surpassing downstream deals in India for the first time,” said Mark Kahn, a spokesperson for Omnivore, an agritech focussed venture capital firm based in India. “Agritech startups played a pivotal role in supporting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers during the pandemic.” 
     
    Source: Hindustan Times
 















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EDITOR'S NOTE

19 Dec 2021

One Size Fits All Will Not Work, Indian Agriculture Needs Decentralised Farm Reforms

There is consensus that Indian agriculture is in desperate need of reforms. These reforms are necessary for farm incomes to rise. If farmers in Malwa (Madhya Pradesh) or Doaba (Punjab) region have a speci