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Centre rolls out new scheme for buying drones to spray pesticides and fertilisers at farms

Agriculture drone fly to sprayed fertilizer on the green tea fields. (Photo for Representation)

The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has rolled out a new scheme of granting up to Rs 10 lakh for the purchase of drones for the farm sector in order to spray pesticides and fertilisers in fields as part of the policy to boost precision farming.

According to an official information provided on Saturday, the guidelines of “Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization” have been amended which envisages granting up to 100% of the cost of agriculture drone or Rs. 10 lakhs, whichever is less, as grant for purchase of drones bythe Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, ICAR institutes, KrishiVigyan Kendras and State Agriculture Universities for taking up large scale demonstrations of this technology on the farmers’ fields.

The Farmers Producers Organizations would be eligible to receive grant up to 75% of the cost of agriculture drone for its demonstrations on the farmers’ fields.

A contingency expenditure of Rs.6000 per hectare would be provided to implementing agencies that do not want to purchase drones but will hire drones for demonstrations from Custom Hiring Centres, Hi-tech Hubs, Drone Manufacturers and Start-Ups. The contingent expenditure to implementing agencies that purchase drones for drone demonstrations would be limited to Rs.3000 per hectare. The financial assistance and grants would be available until March 31, 2023.

In order to provide agricultural services through drone application, 40% of the basic cost of drone and its attachments or Rs.4 lakhs, whichever less would be available as financial assistance for drone purchase by existing Custom Hiring Centres which are set up by Cooperative Society of Farmers, FPOs and Rural entrepreneurs. The new CHCs or the Hi-tech Hubs that will be established by the Cooperative Societies of Farmers, FPOs and Rural entrepreneurs with financial assistance from SMAM, RKVY or any other Schemes can also include Drone as one of the machines along with other agricultural machines in the projects of CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs.

Agriculture graduates establishing Custom Hiring Centres would be eligible to receive 50% of the basic cost of a drone and its attachments or up to Rs.5 lakhs in grant support for drone purchases. Rural entrepreneurs should have passed class tenth examination or its equivalent from a recognized Board; and should have a remote pilot license from an Institute specified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) or from any authorized remote pilot training organization.

The subsidized purchase of agriculture drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs will make the technology affordable, 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, the official statement said.

The drone operations are being permitted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation through the conditional exemption route.

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