India plans drone fleet to assess crop damage

By on 09/02/2016

The Indian government is planning to purchase drone technology to improve and speed up assessments of crop damage, improving the compensation system for farmers within its newly-unveiled insurance scheme.

A formal procurement process for the unmanned aircraft technology is expected to be announced in March and the insurance scheme, known as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, is set for launch in June this year.

Pictures captured by the drones will be collated with satellite images in a particular region to collect crop yield data. This will help insurance companies to conduct a precise and faster assessment of damage to insured crops, accelerating the financial settlement for the farmers – and so minimising hardship and economic damage whilst they await compensation payments.

Read more: World Bank approves $35m for access to public services project in India

“We have already given an in-principle approval to Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) for purchase of a drone technology. An e-tender will be issued next month [March],” a senior official with the Ministry of Agriculture told Press Trust of India. The existing system of assessment relies on field reports and observations made by local authorities, making it both slow and labour-intensive.

The government is considering buying at least 20 drones in the next five years if the initial trials are successful. Funds for the drone programme have already been allocated in the 2015-16 budget.

Drone companies already active in India include SkyMet, Amigo Optima, Precision Hawk and Techbaaz. In 2015, SkyMet and the Agriculture Insurance Company of India carried out a pilot scheme surveying crop damage, and this has been extended in 2016.

Read more: Experts predict consequences of 23% pay hike for India’s civil servants

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s administration is determined to promote the use of technology, especially in the antiquated agricultural sector – which provides a livelihood for about 263m farmers. The government billed the repackaged insurance scheme, which aims to boost the use of remote-sensing technology and smartphones as well as drones, as a “historic” and “pioneering” move.

For up to date government news and international best practice follow us on Twitter @globegov

About Vasudevan Sridharan

This article was written by Vasudevan Sridharan. Global Government Forum works with a network of contributors who are experts in their field. If you would like to contribute a piece to Global Government Forum, please contact editorial@globalgovernmentforum.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *