Agriculture Ministry amends guidelines to promote use of drones in agriculture
New Delhi/UNI: In a bid to promote precision farming in India, the Agriculture Ministry on Saturday amended policies to promote the use of drones in agriculture, and also announced subsidies on the purchase of these UAVs till March 2023.
An official statement said the guidelines of “Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization” (SMAM) has been amended and will provide for granting up to 100 percent of the cost of agriculture drone or Rs 10 lakhs, whichever is less, as a grant for the purchase of drones by the Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, ICAR institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and State Agriculture Universities for taking up large scale demonstrations of this technology on the farmers’ fields.
The Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) would be eligible to receive grants of up to 75 percent of the cost of agriculture drones 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.
For drone purchase by existing Custom Hiring Centers which are set up by Cooperative Society of Farmers, FPOs , and Rural entrepreneurs, 40 percent of the basic cost of the drone and its attachments or Rs 4 lakhs, whichever is less, would be given as financial assistance.
New CHCs or Hi-tech Hubs will be established by the Cooperative Societies of Farmers, FPOs and Rural entrepreneurs with financial assistance under central schemes can also include Drone as one of the machines along with other agricultural machines.
Agriculture graduates establishing Custom Hiring Centers would be eligible to receive 50 percent of the basic cost of the 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 the Institute specified by the Director-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 statement said.
The drone operations are being permitted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) through the conditional exemption route.
MoCA has published ‘Drone Rules 2021’ on August 25, 2021, to regulate the use and operation of Drones in India.
The Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has also brought out Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use of Drone application with pesticides for crop protection in agricultural, forestry, non-cropped areas, etc., and for Drone Application in Spraying for Soil and Crop Nutrients.
The demonstrating institutions and all the providers of agricultural services through drone application have to comply with these rules/regulations and SOPs.