Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday said the applicability of drones in the agriculture sector is beyond pesticide spraying and has tremendous scope in organic and natural farming.
The drone industry in India has grown six to eight times in the last one-and-a-half years. The drone infrastructure set up in India is “extremely robust”, and an Indian case study of drones as a pioneer in agriculture will be exhibited in the ongoing meeting of the G20 Agriculture Working Group.
India aims to become a global hub for drones by 2030, for which an industry-friendly policy, including the production linked incentive scheme (PLI), is in place, he added.
Addressing the media on the sidelines of the first G20 Agriculture Deputies Meeting, Scindia said, “Don’t look at drones through narrow lines. The versatility and diversity of the application of using drones as service is vast.”
The use of drones in agriculture should not be limited to pesticide spraying. It can be used in cadastral mapping and survey of the agricultural land, he said.
“The area of drone application for jaivik kheti (organic farming) is also tremendous. …Even in natural farming, there is tremendous scope for the application of drones,” Scindia noted.
As organic farming sees organic growth, there will surely be the movement of drone applications, he added.
The government is promoting organic and natural farming in a big way to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and save Mother Earth. Madhya Pradesh is currently leading in organic farming.
Currently, drones in agriculture are permitted only for pesticide spraying.
Asserting that many more applications will continue to emerge in future, the minister said there are multiple uses for drones. “I think, as volumes grow, versatility will also grow.”
He mentioned that the prime minister has been clear in his determination that India can no longer be a follower, and the country must be a leader in unexplored areas of the world. Drone is one such area.
For achieving the aim of becoming a global hub for drones by 2030, the government has adopted a three-pronged approach, he said.
Firstly, the government has put in place a robust policy, doing away with some cumbersome rules and brought in ease of doing business. In a short span, digital mapping of drones has been done in the country into red, green and yellow zones.
Secondly, the government has come out with the PLI scheme for the promotion of the drone industry. “For the first time, the PLI scheme was brought about for industry, which was in a nascent stage,” he said.
The PLI scheme for the drone industry encompasses close to Rs 120 crore incentive for an industry whose size in 2021 was only Rs 60 crore, he added
The minister further said the PLI scheme has yielded “very good results” as many companies have registered, and the size of the industry has grown six to eight times in the last one-and-a-half years.
Thirdly, the government is creating demand for drones and earmarked 12 ministries, including agriculture, for mandatory use of drone technology, he added.
The three-day event of the first G20 Agriculture Deputies Meeting of the Agriculture Working Group (AWG) will conclude on February 15.
It deliberated on four key priority areas: food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture with a climate-smart approach, inclusive agriculture value chain and food supply system, and digitisation of agriculture transformation.
The next meetings of the G20 Agriculture Working Group are likely to be held in Chandigarh, Varanasi, and Hyderabad.
Edited by Suman Singh