On April 20, 2023, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, released the Crop Specific “Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Application of Pesticides with Drones” in the public domain for the guidance of farmers and other stakeholders. He also launched a booklet titled “Machinery for Millets Production, Processing and Value Addition”. Shri Tomar highlighted the importance of technical support in the agriculture sector to meet the challenges and achieve the goal of improving the financial condition of the farmers.
The Importance of Technology Support in Agriculture
Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy and is crucial to improve the livelihood of farmers. However, the sector is facing several challenges like the reduction of cultivable land, changing weather patterns, and the increasing use of chemicals leading to soil degradation. Therefore, there is a need for a change in methodology and strategy, with technology playing a crucial role in addressing these challenges.
Shri Tomar emphasized that without technology, it is not possible to achieve the desired goals in the agriculture sector. The government is linking schemes with technology to promote precision farming and reduce the cost of production. The government is also focused on the use of drone technology to avoid the side effects of pesticides, which can provide extensive benefits to farmers.
The Role of SOPs for the Application of Pesticides with Drones
The release of Crop Specific “Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Application of Pesticides with Drones” is a significant step towards the use of drone technology in the agriculture sector. The SOPs provide guidance to farmers and other stakeholders on the safe and effective use of pesticides with drones. The use of drones can help reduce the cost of production and minimize the side effects of pesticides.
The government is making efforts to make the use of drones accessible to small farmers. Shri Tomar emphasized the need to make Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) more efficient and to organize awareness sessions for agricultural students in universities and colleges to promote the use of drones for precision farming.
The Importance of Millets in Agriculture
Shri Tomar highlighted that the year 2023 is being celebrated worldwide as the International Year of Millets (Shree Anna) on the initiative of Prime Minister Shri Modi. Millets are gaining recognition and importance in various events, and their demand and consumption need to be increased in India and the world. The production, productivity, processing, and export of millets need to be increased to meet the demand.
Financial Assistance for the Use of Drones in Agriculture
Under the Agricultural Mechanization Sub-Mission, financial assistance is provided to various institutions engaged in agricultural activities. ICAR institutes, KVKs, SAUs, other State/Central Government Agricultural Institutes, and Government of India PSUs are provided financial assistance at the rate of 100% of the drone cost (up to Rs 10 lakh per drone) for the demonstration of drones in the farmers’ fields. FPOs are given a grant-in-aid of 75% for the purchase of drones for demonstration in farmers’ fields. Financial assistance is also provided by CHCs to Farmers Cooperative Society, FPOs, and Rural Entrepreneurs for the purchase of drones, subject to a maximum of Rs 4 lakh.
The release of Crop Specific “Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Application of Pesticides with Drones” is a significant step towards promoting the use of drone technology in the agriculture sector. Technology support is crucial in addressing the challenges faced by the sector, and the government is making efforts to link schemes with technology to promote precision farming and reduce the cost of production.
The Indian government is making continuous efforts to promote agriculture and improve the financial condition of farmers. With the use of technology and technical support, the agriculture sector can overcome the challenges it faces today. These crop-specific SOPs and guidelines for using pesticides with drones are a step towards that direction. By ensuring that the benefits of these schemes reach the last person, the government aims to make agriculture accessible to small farmers and agricultural graduates. With the efforts of the government and the support of farmers, India’s agriculture sector can flourish and contribute to the growth of the economy.