The aviation ministry and civil aviation directorate have given conditional approval to the agriculture ministry for flying drones for the real time crop yield assessment under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). The exemption for flying drones will be valid for one year from the date of issue of permission letter. Initially, drones can be used over agricultural areas of 100 districts of 10 states where gram panchayat level yield estimation will be required to calculate insurance claims, said an agricultural ministry.

What

  1. This will help in getting real-time estimates of crop yields accurately from villages, which speed up insurance claims.
  2. This will be a better alternative to the age-old method of crop cutting experiments (CCE) used to assess crop losses.
  3. Under CCE, the allocation and selection of fields for conducting CCE is based on the information of crop of previous years due to non-availability of current year information at the time of survey.
  4. As a result, precision of estimate is affected. The remote sensing technology and unmanned aerial surveys will help forecast the exact amount of crop yield for a particular crop in the given agro-climatic zone.
  5. The official mentioned that the drone-based images are one of the important inputs in the models for crop yield estimation and validation.
  6. Crop damage valuations have traditionally been difficult to make as it is carried out manually after an insurable event such as floods, drought or pest infestation.
  7. As per the conditions, the agriculture ministry will have to obtain necessary clearances from local administration, defence ministry, home ministry, Indian Air Force and Airport Authority of India (AAI) before operating the drone.
  8. The drone cannot be flown during night. It cannot be operated in the vicinity of airport. If required to operate near the airport, the agriculture ministry will have to take prior approval from Airports Authority of India (AAI).