Eying better technology adoption in the agriculture sector, the Union agriculture ministry has issued funding guidelines to make drone technology affordable by assisting in the purchase, hiring and demonstrations of agriculture drones.
The “sub-mission on agricultural mechanisation” (SMAM) scheme envisages granting up to 100% or Rs 10 lakh as grant funding for drone purchase by ICAR institutions, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and State agriculture universities. It provides for 75% grant funding for drone purchases to farmer producer organisations (FPOs). The financial aid and grants shall be applicable till March 31, 2023.
“Rs 6,000 per hectare (will) be given as contingent expenditure to implementing agencies that hire drones for demonstrations. Rs 3,000 per hectare to be given as contingent expenditure to implementing agencies that buy drones for drone demonstrations. Forty per cent or up to Rs 4 lakhs of grant funding for drone purchase to existing custom hiring centres which are set up by Cooperative Society of Farmers, FPOs & Rural entrepreneurs,” Drone federation of India president Smit Shah said.
“Fifty per cent or up to Rs 5 lakh of grant funding for drone purchase to agriculture graduates establishing Custom Hiring Centres. The proposals for the purchase of drones to be submitted through state government for consideration to the executive committee of the scheme for allocation of funds,” the guidelines say.
“With a standard agriculture drone model costing between Rs 8-10 lakhs, this step has made the purchase of agricultural drones nearly free for leading agri-research and agri-training institutions. These institutes, in turn, shall provide demonstrations across the country to promote agri-drone use,” said Shah.
“The subsidised purchase of agri-drones for FPOs, CHCs and agri-entrepreneurs shall make them affordable, subsequently leading to their rapid adoption…. (This) shall make drones accessible to the common man of India and boost domestic drone manufacturing in a big way,” Shah explained.