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Drone pilots – the next wave of employment in Indian Agriculture 

Uber & OLA drivers, Swiggy & Zomato army of delivery boys, the popularity of ride-sharing and new age technology based start-ups have created employment for a huge urban population in India. A similar trend which has the potential to employ large rural population is the concept of Drone Pilots in farming. 

Drone Pilot as an attractive job since it has freedom of work and you’re connected to the nature

The wave of drone pilots offering attractive employment is already trendy in China. The world’s largest country has an estimated 287 million people who are migrant workers. To give a shape to this, 287 million workers in China is equivalent to the entire population of countries like France, Italy and Germany. These workers leave their hometown and go to the country side for working in factories and large settlements which generally pay them low wages. Today, most of them are looking at Drone Pilot as an attractive job since it has freedom of work and you’re connected to the nature.

Drone pilots for agriculture in India

Opportunity in India for drone pilots

More land under cultivation, traditional manual spraying operation with labor crisis peaking, crops grown are dependent on pesticides and bio pesticides are growing are some best examples of why I think drone pilots will be the next wave of employment. 

India has the second largest agriculture land in the world with 157.35 million hectares. Insecticides, fungicides and herbicides are commonly used in Indian agriculture and often applied manually with the help of hand held sprayers.

In India, more than 40,000 different types of insects have been recorded and of these about 1,000 have been listed as potential pests for economic plants. 500 pests have caused serious damage to agricultural output at some point in time and 70 others have been causing damage more often. Therefore, pesticides have been recognized as an essential tool in India to increase agricultural production by preventing crop losses before and after harvesting. (extract from CARE report).

India, paddy accounts for the maximum share of pesticide consumption around (26%-28%) followed by cotton (18% -20%) where pesticide application is key to protect the crop.

Bio-pesticides which is an emerging category in Indian context have a huge scope to grow offering feasibility for drones to apply them precisely and faster.

In India, more than 40,000 different types of insects have been recorded and of these about 1,000 have been listed as potential pests for economic plants

Just see the success story of a year old Chinese startup who help farmers to connect with agricultural drone operators for more precise applications of pesticides and chemicals. The start-up Nongtian Guanjia in China has registered 1,000 drone operators within a short notice and has served farmers covering over 666 million square meters of farmland in 10 provinces.

Demand for drone pilots in agriculture sector will soon rise as the technology gets matured in Indian context. Besides spraying, drones will also have larger use cases covering crop estimation, monitoring etc. which will further enhance the need for such pilots in the country creating unique employment.

If we just take the two major chemical intensive crops paddy and cotton into consideration in Indian context which is grown in an area of about 55 Million hectares annually, we can create close to 70,000 drone pilots.

 
Author, Aswathaman Vijayanis a sustainability professional after sunrise. A reader and writer on sustainability after sunset. An engineer by qualification, but passionate about sustainability in business, agriculture and social development. https://www.linkedin.com/in/aswathaman-vijayan-80212520/