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Use of Drones in Agriculture and Improving Farmers Income

New Delhi: Use of Drones for Crop-protection in India is new and the country is gaining experience. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) initiated a network program in September 2021 in Research on the use of drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for timely monitoring of crop growth, and health and managing it with enhanced input use efficiency were taken up. Drone and AI technology are used to monitor near real-time crop health. The drone is also used for variable rate technology for pesticide and liquid fertilizer applications, mapping of water spread area, water sampling, mapping macrophyte infestation, aquaculture management practices, etc. Drone and AI technology are also used for precision livestock farming, particularly its health monitoring.

For enhancing farmers’ income, the emphasis is on adopting a multi-dimensional strategy, which includes an increase in production through the creation of resources for improving irrigation; effective use of inputs; reduction of post-harvest losses; value addition; reforms in agriculture marketing; minimizing risk and providing security and assistance, and promotion of allied activities. The Government has adopted several developmental programs, schemes, reforms, and policies that focus on higher incomes for the farmers.  All these policies & programs are being supported by higher budgetary allocations and non-budgetary financial resources such as creating Corpus Funds like Micro Irrigation Fund etc. There have been several reforms to unleash the potential, e.g. Formation and Promotion of 10,000 FPOs along with necessary financial support under the AtmaNirbhar Package (Agriculture). Under AtmaNirbhar Bharat special attention is being paid to the creation of infrastructure for which “Agri Infrastructure Fund (AIF) has been created with a size of Rs.100,000 crore. Other special initiatives include Supplementary Income transfers under PM-KISAN; Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY); Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY); Increase in Minimum Support Price (MSPs) for all Kharif & Rabi Crops ensuring a minimum of 50 percent of profit margin on the cost of production, Bee-Keeping; Rashtriya Gokul Mission; Blue Revolution; Interest Subvention Scheme; Kisan Credit Card (KCC) that now offers production loan to even dairy & fishery farmers besides agricultural crops, etc.  The adoption of Drone technologies in agriculture has the potential to revolutionize Indian agriculture.  In order to make Drone technology affordable to the farmers and other stakeholders of this sector, financial assistance @ 100% cost of drones together with the contingent expenditure is extended to ICAR/SAU/State Governments/State Government Institutions under Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) for its demonstration on the farmer’s field.  Apart from this, farmers are getting timely information and advisory services through online and telecom mediums such as Kisan Call Centre and Kisan Suvidha App so that farmers can make decisions for increasing crop productivity. During the last three years (2019-2021) a total of 946 field crop varieties have been released. In addition, 288 varieties of Horticultural crops were also released. These improved varieties are helping farmers to increase their income.