MARGAO: In a huge step towards utilising technology to find solutions for farmers in the State, Agri-Drones for spraying fertilisers or herbicides were launched at Chinchinim on Monday.
Don Bosco Goa, in collaboration with the Chinchinim Agricultural Club, unveiled the Agri-Drones at Diguam Bandh.
While, the State Agricultural Department has been supporting the initiatives of the Chinchinim Agricultural Club, Director of Agriculture Nevil Alphonso praised Fr George Quadros of Don Bosco for having once again ushered in revolutionary technology for the farmers of Goa.
Recalling that it was Fr Quadros who was the first to introduce transplanting machines in Goa, Alphonso said that others followed suit and the State government had also supported such efforts.
Addressing the gathering, Alphonso praised the Agri-Drone technology and how it can be beneficial to farmers. He also referred to another technology that Fr Quadros had launched at Monday’s function - affordable nano-urea spray in bottles which is now an alternative to buying large quantities of urea in sacks.
Earlier in the day, the launch of Agri-drones was done by Fr Felix Fernandes, Provincial, Salesian Province of Panjim who prayed for the farmers’ wellbeing.
Explaining the benefits of the drone, Fr Quadros emphasised that this was not just for Don Bosco but that the technology is dedicated to farmers across Goa with the aim of promoting ‘precision agriculture’. He also sought to allay apprehensions over drone operations and added they are safe, environment friendly and done by following the rules laid by the State government and after getting the police clearance.
The drones fly across the fields and spray micro droplets that do not enter the soil but remain at the surface level and on the leaves of the crops.
Each drone has been purchased for Rs 10.30 lakh, Don Bosco has two registered pilots who underwent the requisite paid training programme to fly a drone that will have a carrying capacity of 10 litres.
Fr Quadros said the liquid fertiliser or herbicide is what makes the difference and that the drone is not only accurate but is also highly efficient, helps farmers to save time. The drones are available on rent for 60 paisa per square metre but Don Bosco is subsidising 30% of this cost. The drones also come with an anti-collision device and have features to handle any problem during the flight and the height from which the plants are sprayed can be adjusted. When charged, the drones can fly for 20 minutes, can go up to 30 metres and can cover a distance of one km from the controller.
Agnelo Furtado, President of Chinchinim Comunidade, expressed his gratitude to those for helping the local farmers, including the Agriculture Department, Don Bosco, Velim MLA Cruz Silva, etc.
Furtado pointed out that these lands were fallow for three decades until the recent initiatives to revive farming supported by Fr Quadros.
He said ploughing and fencing of the fields as well as the use of transplanting machines have been carried out using government subsidy and that mechanised farming has substantially brought down the cost of farming, which is a huge relief to the farmers.
He hoped the Chinchinim success story can be replicated in other parts of Goa too.
Senior government officials were also present.