Agri Drones are getting a boost as the RBI asks banks to finance Kisan Drones.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to start giving loans to farmers who want to buy Kisan Drones. This can help farming become more tech-based.
A senior RBI official told businessline that the RBI has told State Level Bankers’ Committees all over the country to try to get banks to lend money for the purchase of Kisan Drones.
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The RBI’s instructions to banks are in line with the Union Budget 2022–23, which said that the use of ‘Kisan drones’ would be encouraged for crop assessment, digitizing land records, and spraying insecticides and nutrients.
After that, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) figured out how much each Kisan Drone would cost. The RBI told banks that they can use the unit costs as a basis for lending Kisan drones to individuals and farmer producer organizations (FPOs) to make it easier for a lot of farmers to get them.
Depending on what kind of drone it is, the price per unit can go as high as ₹10 lakh. The latest rules say that both the Central Government and the State Governments will give a 40% subsidy per drone.
When asked, a Union Bank of India official said that farmers aren’t fully aware of how to use drones and that they don’t have the technical know-how yet, but that some farmers have already asked for loans.
The banks have already started, according to sources in the banking industry. Under the ‘Union Agri Infrastructure Loan scheme,’ the public-sector Union Bank recently gave a farmer in Haryana a loan of ₹7 lakh at an interest rate of 8.5%. Some banks seem to be thinking about giving FPOs a 3% interest subsidy to make it easier for them to buy a drone.
Under the Kisan Drone plan, the Nabard would also help unemployed rural youth develop the skills they need to work as drone operators.
Prem Kumar, the founder and chief innovator of Marut Drones, said that a low-cost way to pay for drones is very important if they are to become popular.
‘They are as expensive as a car or a tractor. Spraying services for farmers will be hard for a farmer, an FPO, or anyone else who wants to start a drone service business,’ he said.
So far, the drone company has made more than 170 drones and is also in charge of spraying on about 30,000 acres in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for some corporations and non-profit organizations. It also helps teach people how to use drones.
‘An average agri-drone can take care of 20 acres in a day. The operators make a good living at about ₹500 per acre,’ he said.
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C. Sudhakar, Principal Scientist at Prof. Jayashankar State Agricultural University’s Research Station in Tandoor, thought that spraying redgram and safflower crops with drones was a good idea.
‘Sometimes, the crops grow so tall and close together that it’s hard to spray pesticides or fertilizers in the usual way. They also save money because they cut down on physical labor and the need for inputs,’ he said.
(With inputs Subramani Ra Mancombu)