“India is very rich in agriculture sector, and drones can create an impact to help farmers in bringing back the farming sector into the green revolution”, says Mr. Ram Kumar, Vice President of Government Affairs and Agriculture Operations, Garuda Aerospace Pvt. Ltd, while talking about how drone technology can transform agriculture in India.
To learn and understand how drones and drone technology are transforming agriculture in India, scope for employment and entrepreneurship, and the need for skill development in the drone sector, we conversed with Mr. Ram Kumar, Vice President of govt affairs and agriculture operations, Garuda Aerospace Pvt Ltd.
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel.
Overcoming the ill effects of manual spraying on farms through drones
“Farmers who use hand sprayers in the field are required to breathe in and out the same chemicals they are spraying. Additionally, because they have to walk on the crop, there are chances of major crop damage. Apart from this, there are many more drawbacks, making it necessary to have drones that will address these issues. For example, drones would take 7-8 minutes to complete a task which otherwise a manual worker would take three to four hours to complete. As a result, pesticides and fertilizers usage will be reduced, saving 75% of water consumption. This benefits the farmers immensely. Therefore, bringing in drones and creating employment opportunities for local entrepreneurs will help in reviving the green revolution and transforming the agriculture in India.”
Educating and convincing farmers about drone technology
While talking about educating and convincing farmers to use drones, Mr. Ram Kumar said, “It can be difficult to persuade a farmer to use this type of technology that can save money on pesticide distribution while also using less water. Also, that drones work in a similar manner to that of hand sprayers or sprays from tractors that have been used for many years.
Therefore, when we tell them directly that doing so saves money, they are not in a position to grasp it until they see the outcome. We collaborated with 350 KVK (Krishi Vidya Kendra), which is run by senior scientists, principal scientists, and entomologists, and explained to them what a drone is, what it can do, and how to fly one. As a result, we educated farmers and gave them a demonstration session.”
AIF loan scheme for purchasing drones
The government has now come up with a new scheme called as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF).
“AIF scheme has less interest compared to the direct loan option, and the government gives 3% subsidies through the AIF. The interest rate is roughly less than 6%, which is ideal for farmers to utilize the technology and allows them to earn at least Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh each day by spraying about 10 acres”, said Mr. Ram Kumar.
Launching an app for using drones services in agriculture
“We, at Garuda Aerospace, are also developing an application called “G1”, which is similar to an Ola or Uber application. If any farmer in any village wants to use chemical spray for their crops, possibly even for half an acre or 500 acres, they can give all the details, including where they are, what crops they want to spray, what season of the year it is, what medicines they want to spray, and everything else. They can do this through our application, which will then let a dealer, distributor, or entrepreneur know the details and requirements by a farmer. In addition to this, we are also working with numerous entomologists to determine the dosage of chemicals and pesticides to be used. No one is aware of the dosage or what dosage to use. If you buy any chemical or pesticide, the dosage will be mentioned in terms of the quantity required.”
Scope for employment, entrepreneurship, and plans for education and training
While talking about the scope for employment, entrepreneurship and training in drones, Mr. Ram Kumar expressed that “Garuda Aerospace has 30 different types of drone models; each drone is capable of performing minimum of three to four different operations. So, the job requirement is very large. In India we have 6.3 lakh villages, so our aim is to have at least 6.3 lakh drones in the next few years that will be able to provide job opportunities for 6.3 lakh pilots. Village entrepreneurs are also awarded some subsidies. So we are creating employment opportunities for all the village entrepreneurs, not only by giving them training but also by educating them with the right loan options on these schemes, which are available in NSDC, and also by helping them bring their revenue model.”
Also read: Meet one of the first-generation women drone pilots from Hyderabad https://dronefluence.com/meet-one-of-the-first-generation-women-drone-pilots-from-hyderabad/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drone2earth_dec_2022_drone_technology_and_its_applications_training_and_skill_development_in_drones_and_more&utm_term=2022-12-21
Compliance with the DGCA for all Remote Pilot Training and Certification
“Garuda Aerospace is a DGCA-approved RPTO, and we abide by all rules and regulations prescribed by them. Along with the training, we also advice the trainee remote pilots on where to fly and where not to fly drones. The drone operator should be licenced before operating them. The candidates must be at least 18 years old and class 10 graduates as per DGCA guidelines”, said Mr. Ram Kumar.