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With an eye on indigenous production, India prohibits import of foreign drones

The government has been looking to ramp up domestic production since it liberalised the Drone Rules 2021.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has prohibited the import of foreign drones with immediate effect, according to a notification by the DGFT on February 9. Exemptions from the ban have been provided for drones used for research and development, defence and security purposes. However, import of drone components will remain free, the notification added.

With the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 (notified on 25th Aug 21), drone airspace map (24th Sep 21), drone PLI scheme (30th Sep 21), UTM policy framework (24th Oct 21), drone certification scheme (26th Jan 22) and single window DigitalSky Platform (26th Jan 22) in place, this is a good time to invest in the Indian drone industry.” — Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation Amber Dubey

This is the latest attempt by the Indian government to boost indigenous production of drones in the country.

How will drones be used for agriculture in India?

A week ago, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will promote drones-as-a-service through a new initiative, during her speech on the Union Budget 2022-23. It will also promote the use of “Kisan Drones” for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, and spraying of insecticides and nutrients, Sitharaman said.

“The promotion of usage of ‘Kisan Drones’ for crop assessments and protection, land records, spraying of insecticides, are expected to drive a wave of technology in the agriculture and farming sector. It will help the farmers to inspect each area across the field effectively, stay updated with the health of crops, find areas that need immediate attention and promote chemical-free natural farming which will in turn help exports in the coming time and builds the health of the nation.” – Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group

On January 17, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said that it will provide financial assistance for the purchase, hiring, and demonstrations of agriculture drones. Up to ₹10 lakhs, as grant funding for drone purchases, will be made available to Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institutes (FMTTIs), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutions, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and State Agriculture Universities, the Ministry said.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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