Agri Business

Agri Ministry to come out with SOPs for use of drones

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on October 09, 2021

The Union government has recently notified Drone rules, 2021

The Agriculture Ministry plans to come out with standard operating protocols (SOPs) for the use of drones to spray pesticides and nutrients, a senior official said on Friday.

“Very soon, we will be coming out with SOPs for use of drones for spraying pesticides and nutrients, so that they can be used for wider applications by farmers and other stakeholders,” said Shomita Biswas, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture.

Biswas was addressing a conference on Digital and Precision Agriculture, organised by the CII Southern Region on Friday. The Union government has recently notified Drone rules, 2021. “The drone technology is a key area and we also want this to be used in agriculture,” Biswas said.

Drones are being used for spraying nutrients and pesticides, but without the component of artificial intelligence and data analytics. The industry should work towards making this precision agriculture-related, while taking care of aspects such as safety, security and efficacy, she said.

As the initial cost of using such technology is very high, Biswas suggested that the industry work out some scheme or business model so that it can be used in the fields. While leveraging the farmer producer organisations (FPOs) for use of the technology, the industry should look at a public private partnership and focus on skill building to make the technology work for farmers, she said.

Taking PPP route

Biswas also called upon the industry to indigenously develop components to reduce the dependency on imports.

While stating that mechanisation and precision agriculture has direct impact on productivity, besides reducing drudgery, Biswas said India needs greater application of precision farming technologies which are economically viable. Such technologies are also important to attract rural youth to agriculture and make it more sustainable.

Farmers have been using equipments such as laser levellers, pneumatic seed drills and drip irrigation among others, but there is a need for innovators and start-ups to develop technologies that are scalable and easy to use, she said.

C Anandharamakrishnan, Director, NIFTEM, Thanjavur, stressed the need to minimise the wastage in food production, a big challenge, using precision technologies. Anil Kumar Venkat Epur, Chairman, CII, Southern Region Agri, Food processing, Animal Agriculture Sub Committee, suggested the need for a strong public private partnerships to take the technology benefits to the farmers.

S Chandramohan, Co-Chairman, CII SR Agri, Food Processing, Animal Agriculture Sub-committee Director, said the uptake of digital technologies in agriculture is slow mainly due to the segregated smallholder farms in the country, which makes data gathering a complicated activity. Limited percolation of mechanisation tools and recurring natural phenomenon like floods and droughts have also worked against the deployment of digital solutions in the sector.

Additionally, data of different locations, markets, soil type and weather among others is needed to make a viable advanced digital technology, Chandramohan, also Group President (Finance & Investment) TAFE Ltd, said.

Published on October 08, 2021

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