Drones for women: Govt approves central sector scheme for SHGs to bring tech into agriculture

The scheme aims to empower women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and introduce new technology in the agriculture sector through drone services

drones for women govt scheme for SHGs

The Union Cabinet has approved a Rs. 1261 crore Central Sector Scheme for supplying Drones to Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) for the period 2024-25 to 2025-26. The plan seeks to give drones to 15,000 selected Women SHGs between 2023-24 and 2025-2026 in order to provide agricultural rental services to farmers.

In line with the vision of the PM Modi, the plan aims to empower women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and introduce new technology in the agriculture sector through drone services.

The scheme’s key features include comprehensive interventions that synergise the resources and efforts of the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (DA&FW), the Department of Rural Development (DoRD), and the Department of Fertilisers (DoF), along with Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Lead Fertiliser Companies (LFCs).

To implement the initiative, economically feasible clusters will be identified, and 15,000 women SHGs in these clusters across various states will be selected to provide drone services. The scheme offers Central Financial Assistance, covering 80 per cent of the drone and accessories’ cost, up to a maximum of Rs. Eight Lakh. The Cluster Level Federation (CLFs) of SHGs can raise the remaining amount as a loan under the National Agriculture Infra Financing Facility (AIF), with an interest subvention of 3 per cent.

The scheme mandates the selection of a qualified member, 18 years or older, for a 15-day training program, including a mandatory 5-day drone pilot training and an additional 10-day training for agricultural purposes. Another member or a family member inclined towards repairing electrical goods, fitting, and mechanical works will undergo training as a drone technician/assistant. This training is provided as a package along with the supply of drones.

Recognising the challenges SHGs may face in procuring and maintaining drones, Lead Fertiliser Companies (LFCs) will facilitate the connection between drone supplier companies and SHGs. Furthermore, LFCs will advocate for the use of Nano Fertilisers, such as Nano Urea and Nano DAP, through drones operated by SHGs. The SHGs will offer drone services to farmers for Nano fertiliser and pesticide applications.

The envisioned impact of the scheme is to provide sustainable business and livelihood support to 15,000 SHGs, enabling them to earn an additional income of at least Rs. One lakh per annum. Overall, the scheme aims to infuse advanced agricultural technology, improving efficiency, enhancing crop yield, and reducing operational costs for the benefit of farmers.

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