DA&FW publishes new Guidelines for the usage of Drone Technology

Dec 14: In order to promote the use of drone technology in agriculture, the following provisions have been made under the guidelines of the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) being implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW):

(i) Financial assistance @ 100% of the cost of agriculture drones up to a maximum of Rs. 10 lakhs per drone is provided for the purchase of drones by institutes under Indian Council of Agricultural Research, KrishiVigyanKendras (KVKs), State Agriculture Universities (SAUs), State and other Central Government Agricultural Institutions/Departments and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) of Government of India engaged in agricultural activities. The Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) are provided grants up to 75% of the cost of agriculture drones for their demonstrations on the farmers’ fields. A contingency expenditure of Rs.6000 per hectare is provided to implementing agencies that do not want to purchase drones but will hire drones for demonstrations from Custom Hiring Centres, Hi-tech Hubs, Drone Manufacturers, and Start-Ups. The contingent expenditure to implementing agencies that purchases drones for drone demonstrations are limited to Rs.3000 per hectare.

(ii) In order to make available drone services to farmers on a rental basis, financial assistance @ 40% up to a maximum of Rs. 4.00 lakhs is provided for the purchase of drones by Custom Hiring Centers under the Cooperative Society of Farmers, FPOs and Rural entrepreneurs. Agriculture graduates establishing Custom Hiring Centers are eligible to receive financial assistance @ 50% of the cost of the drone up to a maximum of Rs.5.00 lakhs per drone.

(iii) For individual purchase of drones, the Small and Marginal, Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, Women, and North Eastern State farmers are provided financial assistance @ 50% of the cost up to a maximum of Rs. 5.00 lakhs, and other farmers @ 40% up to a maximum of Rs. 4.00 lakhs.

Looking into the advantages of drone technologies in agriculture, the DA&FW has released the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which provide concise instructions for effective and safe operations of drones for pesticide and nutrient application.  All drone operations in the country are governed by the Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022, notified by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee (CIB&RC) has prescribed the guidelines/protocols for registration requirements of pesticides for drone application. It has also finalized the test protocols for phytotoxicity evaluation and for bio-efficacy evaluation of pesticide formulation.

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