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First-Ever Loans For Agri-Drones Sanctioned By Agri Infra Fund

The National Agriculture Infra Financing Facility, or the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund, has sanctioned its first-ever loans for agricultural drones, the latest in a series of the government’s moves to embed it in India’s largest occupation.

The loans have been sanctioned to 25 individuals for kisan drones manufactured by Garuda Aerospace, a Chennai-based startup that is currently raising a $30-million Series A funding.

The individuals, or drone service providers, have been sanctioned loans between Rs 4.5 lakh and Rs 9.5 lakh under the scheme by Bank of India, Garuda Aerospace Founder and Chief Executive Officer Agnishwar Jayaprakash told BQ Prime.

The sanction letters were awarded at a ceremony on July 30 by the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar.

The agriculture ministry revised its guidelines for the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund in May this year to include drones and other precision farming methods.

That made the loan sanction for drones possible, according to Jayaprakash. To be sure, the loans have been approved for Garuda Aerospace’s kisan drone, which is currently pending type certification by the DGCA. “We should receive approval for the drone within two to four weeks. Then we can make the drones available to the service providers.”

Under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Rs 1 lakh crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage for loans up to Rs 2 crore. The duration of the scheme is FY20-29. It aims to invest in viable projects for for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets.

The move to include drones in the fund follows the government’s drone policy in August 2021 that undertook improving the viability of the bots in agriculture by reducing necessary clearances and fees. In September, a scheme offering production-linked incentives worth Rs 120 crore for indigenous drone manufacturing was notified to boost local manufacturing.

The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in December last year, had also released standard operating procedures to use drones for spraying pesticides and nutrients.

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