VIJAYAWADA: Taking another big stride towards big-ticket reforms in the agriculture sector to safeguard the interests of farmers, the Andhra Pradesh government is all set to introduce 2,000 Kisan Drones at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore. An action plan has been submitted to the Centre under the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM) to procure the Kisan Drones.
Once the Government of India finalises the type certification of Kisan Drones and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) empanels Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) in the State for training Kisan Drone pilots, the drones will be launched.Speaking to TNIE, Agriculture Commissioner C Hari Kiran said as per the directions of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, it has been decided to deploy three drones per mandal in the State.
“We have identified 2,000 Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs) under which the Kisan Drone Community Hiring Centres (KDCHCs) will be set up with 5-6 progressive farmers, who will procure the drones with the help of the government and manage them,” he explained.
Under the Kisan Drone Scheme, the unit cost of drone has been fixed at Rs 10 lakh (maximum ceiling). A 40% subsidy (60% Centre’s share and 40% State’s share) per drone will be provided. The beneficiary has to bear the remaining cost. “The State government will facilitate bank loans for the remaining amount and it will have a tie-up with banks in this regard,” Hari Kiran explained.
The KDCHCs will be set up by September and thereafter the procurement process of Kisan Drones will commence. The main use of the drones is spraying pesticides for the pesticide intensive crops. “With the help of drones, farmers can overcome the shortage of farmhands, save time and most importantly can protect their health by not having to get exposed to pesticides, which are toxic substance,” he said.
The Centre, which has tested 265 types of pesticides that can be sprayed using the drone technology, has also released Standard Operating Procedures for spraying pesticides using drones.According to agriculture experts, using drones for spraying fertilisers has a great advantage. Normally, it will take 1-2 days to spray pesticide in 10 acres of land. Using the drone technology, it can be done in just one hour at the rate of 6-10 minutes per acre. Around 25% of pesticide, 95% of water, time and energy can be saved.
The cost of spraying can be further reduced. Besides pesticides, drones can also be used for spraying fertilisers and sowing seeds, wherever it is suitable to do so. The Centre is expected to finalise the types of drones that can be used as Kisan Drones.
The Drone Pilot Licence issued by the DGCA is mandatory for using drones as there are several issues like security and privacy among others. Hence, to operate a Kisan Drone, a Kisan Drone Pilot is needed. In AP, there is a drone pilot training centre. The nearest such facility is the National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM) in Hyderabad and there is also a private organisation providing such training.
ANGRAU which is also equipped to train Kisan Drone pilots, has applied to the DGCA for its empanelment as a training institute for drone pilots. Similarly, several other agriculture universities across the country have applied for the same. ANGRAU is expected to get the permission soon.
The Kisan Drone Pilot training will be a three-month course and those who have completed 10+2 are eligible for it, which is expected to cost around Rs 70,000. The State government is planning to get one of the KDCHC members get trained as a drone pilot.
“Farmers are eagerly waiting for deployment of drones as they will help overcome farmhand shortage, which has become a problem of late. At every meeting we attend, farm mechanisation and drones are being discussed,” said MVS Nagi Reddy, Vice-Chairman of Andhra Pradesh State Agriculture Mission.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is committed to the improvement of lives of farmers and use of technology to increase the crop yield, thereby income and bring down health risks in spraying pesticides manually, he added.
KDCHCs to be set up
The State government has identified 2,000 Rythu Bharosa Kendras under which the Kisan Drone Community Hiring Centres (KDCHCs) will be set up with 5-6 farmers, who will procure the drones with the help of the government.
Drone pilot course
The Kisan Drone pilot training will be a three-month course and those who have completed 10+2 are eligible for it, which is expected to cost around Rs 70,000. The government is planning to get one of the KDCHC members trained as pilot.