The Indian Union agriculture minister has issued funding guidelines to make drone technology affordable by helping in purchasing, hiring, and demonstrating agriculture drones. The financial aid and grants would be applicable till 31st March 2023.
The 'sub-mission on agricultural mechanism' (SMAM) scheme will grant up to 100% or Rs. 10 lakh as grant funding for drone purchase by ICAR institutions, State Agriculture Universities, and Krishi Vigyan Kendras. It also provides 75% grant funding for drone purchases to farmer's producer organizations.
Drone Federation of India President Smit Shah said, Rs. 6,000 per hectare will be given as contingent expenditure to implement agencies that will hire drones for demonstrations. He also added that Rs. 3,000 per hectare would be given as contingent expenditure to implement agencies that will buy drones for demonstrations.
40% or Rs. 4 lakh would be given as grant funding for drone purchase to existing custom hiring centers by Cooperative societies of farmers, farmer producer organizations, and rural entrepreneurs. 50% of Rs. 5 lakh grant funding for drone purchase to agriculture graduates establishing Custom Hiring Centers.
A standard drone model for agriculture costs between Rs. 8-10 lakhs, with the help of this funding, the purchase of agriculture drones is nearly free for leading agricultural research centers and institutions. These institutes will, in turn, offer demonstrations across the country and promote agriculture drone use.