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Drones for precision farming: govt grants ₹10 lakh to ICAR institutes, KVKs, AUs

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Drones for precision farming: govt grants ₹10 lakh to ICAR institutes, KVKs, AUs

As part of its goal to encourage precision farming, the government will award grants of up to ₹ 10 lakh to ICAR institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and state agriculture universities for the buying of drones. The measure will also assist to boost domestic drone manufacture.

According to an official announcement, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has issued guidelines to promote drone technology affordable to players in this sector.

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The guidelines of the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization have been amended, which ‘envisages granting up to 100% of the cost of an agriculture drone or ₹10 lakhs, whichever is less, as a grant for the purchase of drones by Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, ICAR institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, and State Agriculture Universities.’

Custom Hiring Centres

The grant will be used to conduct large-scale demonstrations of this technology in farmers’ fields. Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) would be eligible for a grant of up to 75% of the cost of an agricultural drone.

According to the statement, implementing agencies that do not want to buy drones but want to hire drones for demonstrations from Custom Hiring Centres, Hi-tech Hubs, Drone Manufacturers, and startups will receive a contingency expenditure of ₹ 6,000 per acre.

The contingency expenditure to implementing agencies for drone demonstrations would be limited to ₹ 3,000 per hectare. The awards and financial support would be available until March 31, 2023.

The government stated that 40% of the base cost of the drone and its attachments, or ₹ 4 lakhs, whichever is less, will be available as financial help for drones acquired by current Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs), which are set up by cooperative societies of farmers, FPOs, and rural enterprises.

Agriculture graduates who create CHCs will be eligible for up to ₹ 5 lakh in grant help for drone purchases, or 50% of the basic cost of the drone and its accessories.

The rural entrepreneurs must have completed the tenth grade or its equivalent from a recognized Board. They must have a remote pilot licence from a Director General of Civil Aviation(DGCA)-approved institute or from any recognized remote pilot training business.

The Ministry stated that subsidizing the purchase of agricultural drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs would make the technology cheaper, leading to greater usage. ‘This would render drones more affordable to the average man in India while also considerably encouraging domestic drone production,’ it claimed.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted permission for drone operations via the conditional exemption procedure. On August 25, 2021, the civil aviation ministry announced ‘Drone Rules 2021’ to govern the usage and operation of drones in India.

Standard Operating Procedures

The Department of Agriculture has also issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the use of drones to apply pesticides for crop protection in agricultural, forestry, and non-cropped regions, among other things.

Also Read | Centre to finalise guidelines for use of drones to apply fertiliser to crops

SOPs have also been issued for the use of drones in spraying for soil and crop nutrients. The demonstrating institutions, as well as all providers of agricultural services via drone application, must follow these rules/regulations.

The demonstrating institutions, as well as all providers of agricultural services via drone application, must follow these rules/regulations and SOPs, according to the statement.

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