NAMO Drone Didi: Harnessing technological innovation to empower rural women

New Delhi: NAMO Drone Didi Scheme provides new work opportunities to women so as to make them backbone of rural economy

BY | Monday, 11 December, 2023
(PC: @bvfclnamrup/ X)

The author Dr Mansukh Mandaviya is Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizes & Health and Family Welfare

Women empowerment is undeniably the key towards building a strong and developed nation. It becomes all the more purposeful when women prosper economically and contribute to rural prosperity. NAMO Drone Didi, an initiative announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30th November 2023, during interaction with beneficiaries in Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, aims to provide drones to 15,000 women Self Help Groups (SHGs) for providing rental services to farmers for agriculture purposes. It is an excellent example of harnessing technological innovation to empower the rural women to usher in a new era of rural prosperity. This multifaceted scheme effectively addresses the need to modernize our agricultural practices and increase agricultural productivity by placing cutting edge technology in the hands of rural women. This makes them the epicentreof the rural economy and spearheading the new agricultural revolution. The scheme also opens up new opportunities for the country’s young, vibrant, dynamic and restless startups to enter into the emerging field of drone aeronautics which has a huge untapped potential.

The emergence of innovative new liquid fertilizers like Nano Urea and Nano DAP with foliar application have thrown up the need for development of efficient fertigation system. Only the Prime Minister could have envisioned such a brilliant idea of putting the drone technology in the hands of the women pilots from Self Help Groups.

Though India is the second largest producer of fertilizers, it is also the second largest importer of fertilizers due to inadequate availability of natural resources viz. gas, phosphatic and potassic minerals etc. To overcome this dependence on imports, the government has facilitated revival of several closed down fertilizer units and encouraged setting up of new fertilizer units under ‘AtmanirbharBharat’ scheme. These steps have successfully protected the Indian farmers from the price volatility of fertilizers in the international markets. By means of fertilizer subsidies, the Government has been able to ensure that adequate quantities of fertilizers are made available to farmers at the right price at the right time.

The COVID pandemic and the recent global geo-political situation posed some of the toughest challenges when the fertilizer prices soared world over to never before heights. We decided to convert these challenges into opportunities. The government encouraged indigenous research for development of alternate fertilizers, the outcome of which is the path breaking liquid nano fertilizers. The next challenge to this new invention was to develop an efficient fertigation system. That is where the emerging drone technology provided an answer.

Emergence of Kisan-Drones has opened up immense possibilities towards revolutionizing the agricultural practices. The conventional system of spraying pesticides and liquid fertilizers through hand held back strapped pumps is not only time consuming and cumbersome but is also fraught with many dangers from the poisonous reptiles and lurking wild animals in the fields. The automation of the spraying system by means of agri-drones provides a time saving and efficient application system. The need for Kisan Drones has opened up a whole new gamut of opportunities for the young startups to fulfill their aspirations. Drone manufacturing activity has created tremendous employment opportunities for the youth of the country.  Going further, this new field will also create opportunities for rural women pilots, mechanics, and spare part dealers.

I am of the firm belief that women empowerment is a prerequisite for achieving the concept of ‘Vikasit Bharat’ or developed India. The NAMO Drone Didi Scheme provides new work opportunities to women so as to make them the backbone of the rural economy. This will go a long way in making our agrarian family culture more equitable and stronger. A woman drone pilot can play a vital role in increasing the agricultural productivity and efficiency. The application of pesticides and liquid fertilizers through drones will not only save the physical toil and hardship to the farmers but will also be quicker and save precious time which can be utilized for more productive work.

The NAMO Drone Didi scheme will definitely be a game changer. It will usher in a new chapter of women empowerment and effectively address multiple issues by providing an opportunity to the rural women to be at the centre stage of the economic activity and rural prosperity. There is no doubt that the scheme supported by the newly created network of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Samriddhi Kendras, which provide agricultural services under one roof, will prove to be a harbinger of modern day agricultural revolution and prosperity in a largely agrarian country like ours.

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