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Grant up to Rs 10 lakh to ICAR institutes, KVKs, state agri universities for purchase of drones, says Agri ministry

New Delhi: The government will provide grant of up to Rs 10 lakh to ICAR institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and state agriculture universities for purchase of drones, as part of its objective to promote precision farming.

The move will also help in enhancing the domestic production of drones.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has issued guidelines to make drone technology affordable to the stakeholders of this sector, according to an official statement.

The guidelines of Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization have been amended that “envisages granting upto 100 per cent of the cost of agriculture drone or Rs 10 lakhs, whichever is less, as grant for purchase of drones by the Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, ICAR institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and State Agriculture Universities.”

The grant is for taking up large scale demonstrations of this technology on the farmers’ fields.

The Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) would be eligible to receive grant up to 75 per cent of the cost of agriculture drone.

A contingency expenditure of Rs 6,000 per hectare would be 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 startups, the statement said.

The contingent expenditure to implementing agencies that purchase drones for drone demonstrations would be limited to Rs 3,000 per hectare.

The financial assistance and grants would be available until March 31, 2023.

To provide agri services through drone application, the ministry said that 40 per cent of the basic cost of drone and its attachments or Rs 4 lakhs, whichever is less, would be available as financial assistance for drone purchased by existing Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs), which are set up by cooperative society of farmers, FPOs and rural entrepreneurs.

Agriculture graduates establishing the CHCs will be eligible to receive 50% of the basic cost of drone and its attachments or up to Rs 5 lakhs in grant support for drone purchases.

The rural entrepreneurs should have passed class tenth examination or its equivalent from a recognized Board. They should have remote pilot license from Institute specified by the Director General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) or from any authorized remote pilot training organization.

The Ministry said that the subsidised purchase of agriculture drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs would 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,” it said.

The drone operations are being permitted by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) through the conditional exemption route.

The civil avaition ministry has published ‘Drone Rules 2021’ on 25th August 2021 to regulate the use and operation of Drones in India.

The Department of Agriculture has also brought out Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use of drone application with pesticides for crop protection in agricultural, forestry, non-cropped areas, etc.

The SOPs have also been issued for drone application in spraying for soil and crop Nutrients.

The demonstrating institutions and all the providers of agricultural services through drone application have to comply with these rules/regulations and SOPs, the statement said. 

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