Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Farmers already using drones for spraying, experts wary of effects

Nagpur: Ramesh Patil (name changed), a farmer in Akola, says he has been successfully using drones for spraying pesticides for a year now. Patil, who has nearly 170 acres land, started using the flying machine after facing labour shortage.

His larger holding is one of the reasons for using drones, says the farmer not wishing to be named. Patil fears regulatory action, as he does not have any permission for aerial spraying.

He could afford to buy a drone, but Patil says there may not be many in Vidarbha using the technology.

In November, the government issued standard operating procedures for use of drones in the farm sector. The budget too gave a push. The ministry of agriculture has come up with a scheme to fund drones to farmer producers organizations, cooperatives and entrepreneurs.

Much before the measures were declared, a section of farmers in the state had already started using drones.

Saurabh Ghewari in Pandharpur town of Solapur assembles drones. Ghewari says he has sold 10 drones so far and there are orders for three. Out of those sold, six were in Western Maharashtra. “There is great demand from sugarcane growers in Sangli and Kolhapur districts. There are other suppliers too,” he says.

Prospective drone operators are directed to institutes approved by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Institutes not having DGCI approval provide training but not a certificate, says a source.

Patil sys he has himself learnt to operate the drone.

As some farmers are already using drones, there are mixed views among agro-chemical industry stakeholders and activists. Use of drones is expected to increase pesticide consumption, say sources.

08/02/22 Shishir Arya/Times of India

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