India’s Drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV) Industry is gaining significant increase and is expected to reach $1,810 million by FY 2026, representing a 14.61 per cent CAGR. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during her Union Budget 2022 speech announced the Agriculture & Drone Budget 2022 with “Drone Shakti” initiative highlighting the Drone Technology with a special focus on Indian Agriculture sector and upskilling to empower start-ups working in drone technologies in India.
Drone Shakti initiative or the ‘power of drones’ is a scheme proposed by the government to boost or promote the ‘Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS)’ through startups in the country. This initiative is expected to involve drones developed by Indian startups, in agriculture, trade, logistics and much more.
While tabling her fourth General Budget the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Artificial Intelligence, Geospatial Systems and drones, Semiconductor and its ecosystem, Space Economy, Genomics and Pharmaceuticals, Green Energy, and Clean Mobility Systems have immense potential to assist sustainable development. They provide employment opportunities for youth, and make Indian industry more efficient and competitive”.
Stressing the importance of drones in startups the finance minister further said that the industry needs to go through upskilling and increased hiring to meet the growing business needs. She said, “Startups will be promoted to facilitate Drone Shakti through varied applications and for drones as a service.”
Here are some of the Highlights of Union Budget 2022 for Indian Drone & Agriculture Sector.
- Promoting & facilitating Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS) in India, encouraging the use of drones in service sectors.
- Indian Startups working in drone technologies will be promoted to facilitate the usage of drones.
- In all states in select Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will offer skilling courses in drone technology.
- Promoting use of Kisan Drones for spraying of insecticides and nutrients, digitisation of land records & crop assessment for better productivity.
- In agriculture 10 to 15 percent of drones can be used.
- Drone-based surveillance system introduced for Railway Security and for surveillance of COVID-19 containment zones and hotspots.
- Encouraging Drone manufacturers and service providers to collaborate to enhance the technology.
- Development of 100 new cargo terminals in the next 3 years will also enable the use of drones for cargo deliveries.
- According to the size of the drone, the remote pilot license fee has been reduced from Rs 3000 (for large drone) to Rs 100 for all categories of drones which will be valid for 10 years.
- Import of drones will be regulated by DGFT and No remote pilot licence is also required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones.
- Large unmanned aircraft system (UAS) weighing more than 150 kilograms will be used across sectors.
Dedicated fund is to be set up for agritech start-ups in the country, offering financial backup to start-ups interested in venturing into agriculture and rural enterprises, driving a wave of technology in Agri & farming sector.
- Procurement of wheat in Rabi season 2021-22 and procurement of paddy in Kharif season 2021-22 will give crops benefits to over 1 crore farmers.
- Promoting the use of Kisan Drones for crop assessments, spraying of insecticides and nutrients and digitization of land records will help to improve operational efficiency and maximize profitability
- Delivery of digital and high-tech services for farmers to be launched.
- Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers to be transferred directly into their bank accounts.
- Chemical-free and natural farming across the country.
- Support for post-harvest value addition for millet products and branding millets products nationally and internationally.
- Through NABARD Fund to be facilitated to finance startups for agriculture and rural enterprise.
During the Covid-19 pandemic there was a large-scale adoption of drones by the government agencies and the technology has been greatly welcomed. India Budget 2022 has paved the way for applications of drone technology in various sectors including startups and agriculture. The Drone Shakti scheme and INR 120 Cr Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for drone and drone components would not only help in increasing the domestic manufacturing but will also create employment opportunities for the youth and generating a supplier ecosystem for the industry in India.
As the government is opening the doors for the drone industry in India more companies and startups will gear up for their investments in this sector. Various Drone makers and service providers are planning to further bring down drone prices and ramping up their product offerings after the introduction of the Scheme by the government.
The collaboration of Drone Industry with farmers will make India’s agricultural sector future-ready and will drive faster adoption of UAVs in the country. The launch of new drone corridors and Government focus on Aatamnirbhar Bharat and support for incentivising local manufacturers will transform the scenario of drone industry across different sectors in the country.