“Drones can give Indian agriculture the boost it needs”

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

Interacting with The Indian Express, Sheikh said that this technology will help the industry move to advanced models. Last year, the Center authorized the use of drones to spray agricultural inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers in the agricultural sector after prior authorization from the authorities. Agri-input companies have begun work recording individual molecules that would be sprayed using a drone. The Maharashtra government has also announced a special grant for village-level entrepreneurs to purchase drones.

Susheel Kumar, Country Head and Managing Director of Syngenta India, said the company has obtained clearance from the Central Insecticides Board (CIB) for the application of two molecules, and more are in the pipeline. The company, Kumar said, had carried out extensive trials to gather and submit the necessary data for approval. Trials were conducted on 400 acres of land mostly in Uttar Pradesh, he said.

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

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