In a bid to promote the use of drones, the Centre on Saturday offered a 100 % grant up to the cost of Rs 10 lakh to Agriculture Institutes for the purchase of Drones for Agriculture and its allied activities.
Besides, the Government has also offered a grant of 75 % of the cost of Drone to Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) for demonstrations on the farmers’ fields, said a senior officer of the Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare Ministry.
The Ministry has issued revised guidelines to make drone technology affordable to the stakeholders of this sector. In its guidelines on “Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization” (SMAM), it envisaged 100 % grant to the Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, ICAR institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and State Agriculture Universities.
A contingency expenditure of Rs.6000 per hectare would also be provided to the implementing agencies for hiring Drones from Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) for demonstrations. The contingent expenditure to implementing agencies that purchase drones for drone demonstrations would also be given at Rs.3000 per hectare.
Initially, financial assistance and grants would be available till March 31, 2023, and then it would be reviewed again, the Ministry said. The existing Custom Hiring Centres (CHC) that has been set up by Cooperative Society of Farmers or FPOs would also be given a grant of 40% of the basic cost of the drone and its attachments up to Rs four lakh, the Ministry said.
However, if a CHC has been established by Agriculture graduates, the subsidy would increase to 50% of the basic cost of drones up to five lakhs. “The subsidized purchase of agriculture drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs will make the technology affordable, resulting in their widespread adoption. This would make drones more accessible to the common man in India and will also significantly encourage domestic drone production,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are in the process of permitting drone operations through a conditional exemption route. The Agriculture Ministry has also come up with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the use of Drone application with pesticides for crop protection in agricultural, forestry, non-cropped areas, The Ministry said.