Recently, Union Cabinet approved a scheme as part of PM Modi’s ‘lakhpati didi’ initiative under which the central government will provide drones to as many as 15,000 Women’s Self-Help Groups over the next four years. The scheme would have a financial outlay of ₹1,261 crore for two years beginning 2024-25.
Highlights of this scheme are:
- Coordinated Approach: The scheme approves holistic interventions by converging the resources and efforts of Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (DA&FW), Department of Rural development (DoRD) and Department of Fertilizers (DoF), Women SHGs and Lead Fertilizer Companies (LFCs).
- Objective: It is envisaged that the approved initiatives under the scheme will provide sustainable business and livelihood support to 15,000 SHGs and they would be able to earn additional income of at least Rs.1 lakh per annum.
- Identification of SHGs: The self-help groups would be identified from the total 89 lakh SHGs formed under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana. The appropriate clusters where usage of drones is economically feasible will be identified following which the SHGs will be selected for providing drones. The SHGs would be able to provide those drones as rental services to farmers for agricultural uses.
- Financial assistance : It will be provided by the Centre to each SHG at 80 per cent of the cost of drone, including accessories/ancillary charges but up to a maximum of ₹8 lakh. As one drone costs around ₹10 lakh, the government has allowed SHGs to take loan from banks under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) at lower interest rate since the Centre bears 3 per cent interest costs through subsidy.
- Training of Human Resource: The representatives of women SHGs, qualified and elected by the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) and lead fertilizer companies (LFCs) will have to undertake a 15-day training that includes 5-day mandatory drone pilot training and 10 days on nutrient and pesticide application.
Members of the SHGs with inclination to take up repairs of electrical goods, fitting and mechanical works will be selected by the SRLM and LFC and will be trained as drone technician/assistant. The government guidelines have also made LFCs to act as a link between drone suppliers and SHGs in purchase of drones as well as their repair and maintenance.
Key Role Played by Drones:
The drone services are envisaged to be used by the farmers for Nano fertilizer and pesticide applications.Drones will improve efficiency in spraying fertilisers and pesticides which will help to improve agriculture efficiency, enhance crop yield and reduced cost of operation for the benefit of farmers.