Friday, March 11, 2022

Govt Working To Fastrack UAV Adoption In Agriculture Sector To Leverage Drone Shakti

The central government has ramped up efforts to shore up drone adoption in the agriculture sector.

As part of the plan, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Agriculture.Ministry and the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) will fast track applications and adoption of drones in the sector.

A senior official in the CIBRC, Ravi Prakash, said, “The DGCA, the agriculture ministry and CIBRC are working jointly to fast track applications and adoption of drones in the agriculture sector, including crop health monitoring and spraying of soil nutrients.”

Prakash made the comments at a virtual event co-hosted by trade body CropLife and NGO ThinkAg. He further added that drones were affordable and would help in superior production.

According to the report, the Board had so far received applications from eight crop protection companies seeking permission for conducting trials of drones.

CIBRC is a government body that aims to regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides. The Central panel operates under the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage.

Other arms of the government have also reportedly joined the programme. The National Institute of Plant Health Management has developed a ten-day training module for drone pilots that seeks to train them in flight and spraying via these UAVs. According to the institute, the initiative is awaiting DGCA clearance.

Under the programme, a drone pilot will get a certified drone flying license that will be valid for a period of ten years. The institute is reportedly also mulling to tie up with other central and state agriculture universities and institutes for a pan-India roll out.

This comes barely a month after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, called for leveraging ‘Drone Shakti’, saying that, ‘Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS) startups were the need of the hour.’ 

Add to this, in February this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off 100 Kisan Drones for spraying pesticides over farms in various parts of the country.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) last month had also made major policy changes to promote the homegrown drone industry by banning the import of drones with immediate effect, however, with certain caveats. 

11/03/22 Chetan Thathoo/Inc42

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