Weekly Current Affairs

Drones better than satellites to gauge crop loss, says panel [Agriculture]

  • A committee tasked by the government’s apex planning body NITI Ayog with studying how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used in crop insurance schemes has said drones trump satellite technology for the purpose.
  • The committee also maintained that sharing cadastral (land’s location, ownership, tenure) details, Aadhaar card and bank account details are “mandatory” for effective crop insurance policies.
  • The ideal alternative is to gather data from low heights [i.e., below the cloud] and at very high resolution where aerial photography or UAVs score over all available alternatives.
  • The current satellites which are even better than 10m spatial resolution would not be sufficient due to their non-availability during cloud cover, limited revisit possibility during the crop season and high price.
  • Farmer field coordinates be made mandatory for issuance of insurance policy. This will help in tracking the crop field throughout the crop season without much ground monitoring and any kind of loss can readily be verified from satellite data.
  • The government has launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), replacing the existing National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, which will allow farmers relatively lower premiums.
  • It also allows them to be insured against post-harvest losses. The States will bear the bulk of the premiums and farmers pay depending on the type of crop.
  • The government’s apparent objective is to increase the number of insured farmers from the current 20 per cent to 50 per cent within three years.