Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Drones can help create $100-bn GDP boost, lakhs of jobs in India: WEF report

Gandhinagar: Putting drones at the centre of a technology-led transformation of Indian agriculture can help boost the country's GDP by 1-1.5% and create at least five lakh jobs in the coming years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said in a new report on Tuesday.

The report, prepared by WEF's Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution in India in collaboration with Adani Group and launched here, outlined the potential for drone-based transformation of Indian agriculture.

It also outlines use cases for drones, fusing military and civilian technologies enabled by digital adoption, analytics, digital financing and a well-coordinated local stakeholder effort and provides a framework for development of scalable pilots that can be implemented by various governments, the WEF said.

"Arguably, aviation is one of the most regulated sectors globally. India's bold and measured approach to spur unmanned aviation has been celebrated across a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

"To make the most of this regulatory landscape, drones must be part of the core agri-equipment repertoire alongside tractors, cultivators, ploughs, diggers and combine harvesters to fortify our farms," said Vignesh Santhanam, Project Lead, Aerospace and Drones (India) at WEF.

Citing different studies, the WEF highlighted the immense potential in improving agricultural outcomes for farms through precision agriculture expertise and advisory that can enable a 15% increase in productivity in India's $600 billion agriculture sector.

"Drones can play a critical role in unlocking this value as they provide an effective medium to collect data and apply inputs, directly impacting yields and farmers’ income. Scaling drones in agriculture sector will also boost farm mechanization and nudge India closer to global peers," the WEF said.

The report of the Geneva-based WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation, also outlined how civil-military convergence can accelerate research to benefit civil society applications.

Given the nascent state of the drone sector and significant import dependence on various key components, there is a need to build a robust local support system including a 'Made in India' supply chain, targeted skill development programmes, next-generation digital financing mechanisms and strong awareness-building programmes among farmer groups and policymakers, it added.

The mainstreaming of drones in the agricultural sector needs to be aided with the creation of a "green microcosm" where an integrated 'drone-centric rural hub' is set up and stabilised across crop cycles.

"The microcosm would be a controlled environment that would test varied use cases pertinent to agriculture as well as other rural applications," the WEF said.

India has approximately six lakh inhabited villages, all of which are said to have a reasonable level of agricultural activity.

18/10/22 PTI/The Hindu

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