The “Drone Moment” of Indian Agriculture

The “Drone Moment” of Indian Agriculture

The “Drone Moment” of Indian Agriculture

 

Dr Mansukhh Mandaviya

Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers

Travelling through the verdant serenity of the lush green fields of Punjab, my attention was drawn towards a distant buzzing sound. Curious to know the source, I got down from my vehicle, to be greeted by two rustic farmers operating a drone for spraying liquid Nano Urea. I was pleasantly surprised to see such an enthusiastic acceptance of a new concept by the farmers in a rural corner of the country.  This, I felt, was the ‘drone moment’ for the agricultural sector of India, heralding a ‘drone movement’ in our country. The farmers told me that they got the information about the agri-drones during their visit to ‘Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra’ in their village. The new technology was extremely useful for spraying of liquid fertilizers and pesticides in their fields in the most efficient manner, they narrated.

Indian agriculture has already travelled a distance by transitioning itself from being traditionally a bullock-cart based towards tractor-based agriculture. I am now seeing a genesis of third wave of agricultural revolution emerging in the form of usage of drones in the agricultural operations. The agri-drone technology is proving to be a real breakthrough in modernizing and transforming our farming practices. Gone are the days of tedious and time -consuming manual spraying of pesticides and liquid fertilisers through hand pumps; it is gradually getting replaced by a much more efficient and productive technique of spraying by means of drones. Modernisation of agricultural practices is essential and indispensable for improving efficiency and productivity of the farming sector so as to ensure food security, which is an important element of Viksit and Atmanirbhar Bharat.

The green revolution of the 1960s witnessed introduction of new farm tools, HYV seeds, pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Over the years, an urgent need was felt to ensure more balanced use of fertilizers, in order to maintain long term sustainability of our environment, soil health and soil fertility. In response, the Government has embarked upon several initiatives like PM PRANAM and GOBARDHAN to promote alternate fertilizers such as Bio, Nano and Organic fertilizers. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samriddhi Kendra (PMKSK) are set up to enhance awareness about these new initiatives and provide integrated solutions to the farmers under one roof.

The indigenously developed nano fertilizers are path breaking as they provide an eco-friendly and effective alternative to the conventional chemical fertilizers. Now, a 45 kg bag of conventional urea can be replaced by half a litre bottle of Nano Urea with multifold advantages like better nutrient use efficiency and easier handling, apart from being helpful in maintaining soil quality and improving crop yield. The next challenge in ensuring its wider acceptability was to develop a method of efficient application system, creation of an eco-system for easier adoption and effectively communicating the benefits to the farming community.

The development of Kisan Drones by India’s young and dynamic startups offers an effective and efficient technique for application of liquid fertilizers. Having a capacity to cover an acre of farm land within minutes proved to be a blessing to the farmers toiling hard for hours together in their fields. With more free time at their disposal, farmers can engage in more productive work to increase their earnings and improve their quality of life.

One of the focus of  Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modiji is to empower the women and increase the share of women led development within the country. He launched the Namo Drone Didi on November 30, during the interaction with beneficiaries in the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra which aims to provide drones to 15,000 select women SHGs for providing rental services to the farmers for agriculture purpose by providing easy financial solutions. This innovative initiative will not only make drones  easily available to farmers for spraying liquid fertilizers and pesticides, but also contribute to women empowerment and rural prosperity. It will give a boost to India’s drone aeronautics and help drone manufacturing startups to setup manufacturing facilities. It will augment job opportunities for women and youth by means of creating employment ventures for drone pilots and drone mechanics in the remote corners of the country and will give a fillip to the rural and urban economies at the same time.

Effective communication is the backbone of successful implementation of any novel initiative. Drones have become a start attraction as part of the countrywide Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra started from 15th November 2023. There have been more than 50,000 drone demonstrations across all the States during the Yatra. These demonstrations have ignited high level of interest within the farmers for adoption of this new technology in their farming operations.

The ‘Drone Moment’ has given wings to the flight of India’s farming sector. It gives me a great sense of pride, satisfaction and fulfilment to be part of India’s new trajectory of growth and wholesome development. Yes, I believe, we are poised to become the fastest growing economy in the world.

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