Funding center for the use of drones in agriculture; issues guidelines for FPOs and other stakeholders

In a significant move towards promoting the use of drones in agriculture and to make drone technology affordable for stakeholders in the sector, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare will fund the use of drones for agricultural activities. With this in mind, the Ministry has issued a series of guidelines under the “Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization” (SMAM) which aims to support Farmer Organizations, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Custom Employment Centers and the details.

Accordingly, the guidelines contemplate granting up to 100% of the cost of agricultural drones or Rs 10 lakhs, whichever is less, as a subsidy for the purchase of drones by different organizations or individuals regarding agriculture. . Apart from this, farmer-producer organizations (FPOs) will also be eligible for a subsidy of up to 75% of the cost of agricultural drones for farmers’ field demonstrations. Meanwhile, a contingency expense of Rs 6,000 per hectare will be provided for implementing agencies who do not want to buy drones but rather hire them for demonstrations.

Similarly, agriculture graduates, who will establish personalized hiring centers, will be eligible to receive 50% of the base cost of drones and attachment or up to Rs 5 lakhs in subsidy for the purchase of drones.

The center publishes SOPs for the use of drones

The guidelines came months after the Center issued the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the use of drones in agriculture. According to the ministry, the SOP for the regulation of drones based on the application of pesticides covered major aspects, including flight permits, area distance, weight classification, area restrictions, drone registration. , pilot certification, etc.

According to the SOP, drone operators will need to obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) from the DGCA before initiating any type of operation. In addition, local authorities should be notified prior to commencing operation and all safety precautions should be followed. “Drones must have the ability to handle a variable payload (depleting tank). The nozzle system should be fixed so that the spray band is continuous when sprayed from the minimum height allowed above the evenly distributed crop,” the guidelines state.

Notably, drone operations were authorized by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) under certain conditions, following which the “Drone Rules 2021” also came into force. been issued to regulate the use and operation of drones in India.

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