High tech for Indian agriculture! Modi has deployed 100 drones across the country to simultaneously target farmland
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched 100 "Made in India" agricultural unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) across the country, which perform farming operations in a unique synchronized manner. Modi called it a "milestone" for Indian agriculture.
The drone operation is said to be the country's largest demonstration of agricultural drone operations on a farm group. Modi said new technologies will bring "a world of opportunity for farmers and youth."
A series of recent policy easing and incentives, including the proposed federal budget for 2022-2023, have opened up the commercial use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, for India's vast agricultural sector.
"This is a new chapter in the direction of modern agricultural facilities in the 21st century," Modi tweeted after the big launch. I believe this beginning will not only prove to be a milestone in the development of the uav industry, but will also open the sky to endless possibilities."
Modi's government has been pushing private companies to invest more in agriculture, which contributes 21 percent of the country's GDP. But farmers in several states have been protesting, demanding legal guarantees for minimum prices for agricultural products.
Almost half of Indians depend on farm income, but most of India's farmers are small, low-yielding farmers. After a year of protests, the government repealed a series of laws in December 2021, lifting restrictions on food trade.
Analysts say drones, while still costly, could be transformative and make agriculture more efficient.
Agricultural drones are often operated using smart Internet-based technology that can perform precise agricultural operations, from spraying to monitoring crop health. They can cost between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 1 lakh.
A recent government incentive provided subsidies that gave state-run agencies almost free access to agricultural drones.
The drones are made by Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, a local start-up. According to Modi's tweet, the company informed Modi that it would build 100,000 drones over the next two years. "This will create new jobs and new opportunities for young people," Modi said.
The 2022-2023 Federal budget announced a special boost for the development of Kisan (Farmer) drones. The budget also aims to create public-private partnerships for high-tech agricultural services.
On February 10, Anand Mahindra, chairman of The Mahindra Group, announced a major decision to scale up agricultural drones. "Drones are destined to become a part of our daily lives," he tweeted. But nowhere is it more beneficial than on the farm."
Farmer producer organizations or large groups are now eligible for up to 75 percent of the cost of demonstration drones.
The government has also provided an emergency payout of Rs 6,000 per hectare for enforcement agencies that do not want to buy drones but will hire them for demonstration purposes.
Drone leasing centers will also receive special funding to provide agricultural services through drones. This includes 40 per cent of the basic cost of the drone and its accessories or Rs 4 lakh, whichever is lower.
Aranyak Nirverkar, an analyst at farm technology firm Aggrow, said: "Agricultural uavs have to be offered at a low price through specific rental centres. This is possible if companies can scale through widespread use.