Kisan Drones


Recently, the Prime Minister has flagged off 100 Kisan drones in different cities and towns of India to spray pesticides in farms across India.

About Kisan drone

  • It will have an unmanned tank filled with insecticides and nutrients. 
  • The drones are expected to have a high capacity of 5 to 10kg.
  •  The drone will spray the same amount of pesticide on about one acre of land in just 15 minutes. 
  • The drones have been manufactured by Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, a home-grown start-up. 
  • They will also be used to carry vegetables, fruits, fish, etc to the markets from the farms.
    • These items will be supplied directly to the market with minimal damage, consuming lesser time, resulting in more profits to farmers and fishermen.

Kisan drones benefits

  • Boost agricultural sector: Kisan Drones will be used to boost the agricultural sector in the country, by using kisan drones for crop assessment, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients.
  • Transportation of food produce: Farmers can use drones to transport their produce like fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets in a minimal time, hence boosting their income.
  • Aid new-age farming: Kisan drones will provide modern farming facilities in the 21st century, and will prove to be a milestone in the development of the drone sector in India.
  • Chemical-free farming: Kisan drones also aims to promote chemical-free national farming.
    • In the budget 2022, the finance minister said that chemical-free natural farming will be promoted throughout the country, with focus on farmers’ lands in 5-kilometre-wide corridors along the river Ganga in the first stage.
  • Post-production benefits: Kisan drones will be supplied directly to the market with minimal damage, consuming lesser time, resulting in more profits to farmers and fishermen.
  • Increase employment: ‘Kisan drones’ are the beginning of a new revolution, and will generate fresh employment and new opportunities for the youth.

Issues /Challenges

  • Initial Cost: Mostly, agricultural drones used for surveying have fixed wings and may cost very high based on features and sensors necessary for executing their intended use.
  • Connectivity: Online coverage is mostly unavailable in arable farms. Under such a situation, any farmer intending to use drones has to invest in connectivity or buy a drone with local data storing capability in a format that can be transferred and processed later.
  • Weather Dependent: Under windy or rainy conditions, flying drones is not easy, unlike traditional aircraft. Drones are weather dependent.
  • Knowledge and Skill: An average farmer cannot analyze drone images as it requires specialized skills and knowledge to translate them into any useful information.
  • Misuse: There is a chance of misuse to infringe the privacy of people and illegal transfer of information.

Governments interventions 

  • The Union Budget 2022-23 announced a special push for Kisan (farmer) drones.
    • The budget also aimed to create public-private partnerships for high-tech farm services.
  • The Union Agriculture Ministry has amended the guidelines of the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation to provide subsidies to rural entrepreneurs and farmer producer organisations for purchasing drones.
    • The drones can only be used in the green areas and their flight in the airports and military areas is prohibited.
  • Drone Rules 2021: Ministry of Civil Aviation has published ‘Drone Rules 2021’ to regulate the use and operation of Drones in India.
  • PLI
    • The Union government approved a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components.
    • An allocation of Rs 120 crore spread over three financial years has been approved for it.

  • the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) in consultation with all the stakeholders of this sector, has brought out Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use of drones in pesticide and nutrient application that provides concise instructions for effective and safe operations of drones.
  • India banned the import of foreign drones except those used for research and development, defence and security. 
    • Import of drone components is exempted because made-in-India drones still rely heavily on China for them, thereby minimising its fallout on the government’s ambitious plan to roll out agri-drones.
    • The latest measures indicate that GoI wants to discourage Indian companies from buying drones from China even as it ensures that the manufacturing of drones in India does not get affected by the lack of components from the neighbouring country

Conclusion and Way Forward

  • The digital revolution is touching every sphere of life and hence it is high time to bring agriculture in its ambit.
  • The MoUs to rope in the private sector can help in quicker modernization of Farms, easier access to various schemes and subject matter knowledge.
    • Such practices must be studied in depth via pilot projects and extended to the whole of India if found successful.
  • The emphasis on digital infrastructure for infusion of agriculture technologies in a PPP mode will be the need of the hour in the next 25 years to combat the serious threat of climate change, Kisan drones’ are the beginning of a new revolution. 
  • Farmers can use high-capacity drones in the coming times to transport their produce like fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets in a minimal time, boosting their income.
  •  The drones would go a long way in addressing the acute labour shortage faced by farmers, especially paddy growers.
  • the government needs to frame policies, install infrastructure to keep a tab on the drones and put in place policies for opening up the sector

Source: The Hindu

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