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Placing drones at the center of a technology-led transformation of Indian agriculture, with support from emerging business models such as digital finance, precision agriculture and rapid awareness building, can increase GDP by 1%-1.5% and create at least 5,00,000 jobs in the coming years in India, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum, Using technology to improve the livelihoods of billions.

The report, written by the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India in collaboration with the Adani Group, was launched in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, today.

Aviation is arguably one of the most regulated sectors globally. India’s bold and measured approach to promoting unmanned aviation has been welcomed by a wide range of stakeholders. To make the most of this regulatory landscape, drones must be part of the core agricultural equipment portfolio alongside tractors, cultivators, ploughs, excavators and tree cutters to power our farms,” said Vignesh Santhanam, Project Manager, Aerospace and Drones, India, World Economic Forum.

“The use of drones across industry is almost limitless and continues to make great strides. It offers countries like ours an opportunity to leapfrog generations of infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, agriculture and defense progress and break several process barriers. When combined with next-generation imaging technology, performance-based AI and machine learning capabilities, the possibilities are endless. We’ve always believed that the most meaningful breakthroughs occur at the intersection of various fields – between military and civilian, between drones and AI, and between physical and digital. India has taken the lead in establishing several forward-looking policies under the guidance of the Prime Minister to make India the drone hub of the world by 2030,” said Ashish Rajvanshi, CEO, Adani Defense & Aerospace; President, Strategy and Chairman, Adani Group.

A powerful use case for drones, merging aerospace, artificial intelligence and digital finance

Various studies have shown the enormous potential in improving agricultural performance for farms through precision agriculture knowledge and consultancy that can enable a 15% increase in productivity in India’s $600 billion agriculture sector. Drones can play an important role in unlocking this value as they provide an efficient medium to collect data and apply inputs, directly impacting farmers’ yields and incomes. The expansion of drones in the agriculture sector will also boost mechanization of farmers and push India closer to global peers.

Coordinated research between civil and defense technology

The report also examines how civil-military integration can accelerate research to benefit civil society applications. The report highlights different use cases for drones in agriculture, such as crop monitoring, data collection for advisory purposes, and farm management applications.

“Drones are poised to enable different use cases to take advantage of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. The need is to create a business model that drives the rapid adoption and active use of drones at the farm level. It is only possible if the strengths of different ecosystem stakeholders are harnessed and unit level value addition is created for farmers,” said Abhay Pareek, Project Director, Fourth Industrial Revolution for Agriculture, World Economic Forum, India.

Strong local supply chain and support systems

Moreover, given that the drone sector is nascent and highly dependent on imports of various key components, there is a need to build a robust local support system, including a ‘Made in India’ supply chain, targeted skill development programmes, next-generation digital financing mechanisms and robust awareness building programs at Farmer Producer Organizations, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK), farmers and policy makers. The report suggests that a well-planned intervention can add nearly $100 billion to GDP and help India address multiple challenges in the agricultural sector through the use of technology.

The need for a “drone microcosm” while mainstream

The integration of drones in the agriculture sector needs to be promoted by creating a ‘green microbiome’ where an integrated ‘drone-centric rural hub’ is set up and stabilized across cropping cycles. The microcosm would be a controlled environment that would test diverse use cases relevant to agriculture as well as other rural areas.

Further, considering India’s complex agricultural system, including different agro-climatic zones, variety of crop varieties, desperate use of irrigation technology, etc. Integration of drones in Indian agriculture can be achieved through the form factor of drones and a project-based approach in partnership and ownership. stakeholders

“Drone costs drop dramatically by local scale. There are many use cases for the same drone that can be achieved with quick payload switching – from spraying to broadcasting to transportation. Creating local hubs where these apps can be used at scale can establish the business concept and help players grow rapidly,” said Rangarajan Vijayaraghavan, Vice President Strategy and Chairman, Adani Group.

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