The Union Government will provide 15,000 progressive women self-help groups (SHG) with drones to be rented out to farmers for agricultural purposes. The drone services are envisaged to be used by the farmers for Nano fertilizer and pesticide applications.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur told the media on November 29.
It might be recalled that Mr. Modi had in his Independence Day speech announced a scheme for empowering women’s Self Help Groups with drone technology. The scheme would have a financial outlay of ₹1,261 crore for two years beginning 2024-25.
The self help groups would be identified from the total 89 lakh SHGs formed under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana, Mr. Thakur said adding that appropriate clusters where usage of drones is economically feasible will be identified following which the SHGs will be selected for providing drones.
The women’s groups would get a Central financial assistance at 80% of the cost of drone. The total expense of a drone and its accessories is about ₹10 lakh. About 80% of the cost or up to ₹8 lakh, will be provided by the Centre, the Minister said.
“Around 500 drones will be provided by fertilizer companies. The rest 14,500 drones will be made available through the Central assistance in the next two years,” he said. The drone pilot will get an honorarium of ₹15,000 and a co-pilot about ₹10,000.
A well qualified member of the SHG, aged 18 and above, will be elected for a 15-day training, comprising five-day mandatory drone pilot training and additional 10-day training for agriculture purpose of nutrient and pesticide application, while another member of the group will be selected for training as technician or assistant.
The scheme will help in infusing advance technology in agriculture for improved efficiency, enhance crop yield and reduced cost of operation for the benefit of farmers.
The approved initiatives under the scheme is expected to provide sustainable business and livelihood support to 15,000 SHGs and help them earn an additional income of at least ₹1 lakh per annum.