‘Drones can give Indian agriculture boost it needs’

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THE INTRODUCTION of drones in the agriculture sector is a watershed moment for the sector, said Feroz Sheikh, chief information and digital officer of Agri input giant Syngenta India.

Interacting with The Indian Express, Sheikh said this technology would help the sector leapfrog into advanced models. Last year, the Centre allowed the usage of drones for spraying agri inputs such as pesticides, and fertilizers in the agriculture sector after prior permission from the authorities. Agri input companies have started the work of registering individual molecules which would be sprayed using drone. Maharashtra government has also announced a special subsidy for village level entrepreneurs to buy drones.

Susheel Kumar, country head and managing director of Syngenta India, said the company has obtained permission from the Central Insecticides Board (CIB) for application of two molecules, and others are in the pipeline. The company, Kumar said had carried out extensive trials to collate and submit data needed for the approval. Trials were carried out across 400 acres of land mainly in Uttar Pradesh, he said.

This kharif season, the company has decided to use 50 drones for spraying over 30,000 acres of land in Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. Paddy, cotton, and soyabean are the crops which would be sprayed. Kumar said the company is working with 5-6 drone manufacturers for customisation. The technology being new, drones would require work in terms of robustness, flight dynamics etc.

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