In a first, Agri Infra Fund will facilitate loans to SMEs to buy start-up drones

In a landmark move, the government-backed Agri Infra Fund (AIF) has facilitated loans to small businesses and individuals to purchase agri-drones. Depending on the number of drones and accessories purchased, a single loan can go up to Rs 10 lakh with 5% interest.

This announcement is seen as a vindication of the work done by the Chennai-based drone manufacturer Garuda Aerospace. Its indigenous Kisan drone has been selected as the product that will be covered by this pioneering loan program.

“Garuda Aerospace has already pre-booked over 2,500 drones and is firmly on track to manufacture one lakh of Indian-made Kisan drones by 2024,” Garuda Aerospace founder Agnishwar Jayaprakash said in a statement. hurry.

It was a good year for the drone industry. After the drone rules were published, clarifying the government’s regulatory stance last August, the industry also benefited from a PLI scheme of Rs 120 crore and a subsidy scheme of 40% to 100% for purchases of drones.

Good policy, but “slow”

Talk to Your story, BharatRohan founder Amandeep Panwar said the creation of the grant policy could help boost the ecosystem, but its implementation has been slow. BharatRohan also manufactures agri-drones and strives to register under the AIF grant program.

“They [the government] are building drone startups and would then arrange grants for the purchase of their drones through the Agricultural Investment Fund,” he said. “But the challenge is that it’s all still very slow.

Moreover, Panwar said the announcement of these SME-focused policies to help finance drone purchases actually caused friction. Local farmer-producer businesses were waiting to hear what loans and grants they could expect.

“Farmer-producer companies are interested in using drones (purchasing and using services) but the cost and ambiguity of using these subsidies is difficult,” he said.

Drone service providers can earn Rs 1 lakh per month

In the press release announcing the new AIF loans, one of the 25 drone service providers chosen for the loan seems to agree that this could be a positive change for the industry. He says this could create significant employment and revenue generation opportunities for drone buyers.

“My dream has come true and now we will be able to use the loan to purchase Garuda Aerospace Kisan drones which are the most advanced and affordable on the market,” said Ram Kumar, a selected AIF loan recipient.

Kumar is a trained engineer who couldn’t find a full-time job and had to work part-time as a food delivery partner or a part-time tutor for an ed-tech platform. He added that the loan will help him buy the Kisan drones from Garuda Aerospace and enable him to earn a better living.

“Kisan drones cover 25 acres per day for precision spraying operations, save pesticide use by 70%, save water use by 80% and I generate Rs 1 lakh per month in revenue, which is better in packaging from Byju’s, Swiggy, Zomato or Ola [that he received],” he said.

The Agri Infra Fund was announced in May 2020 and has Rs 1 lakh crore to facilitate lending in the agricultural infrastructure ecosystem. The fund recently broke through the rupees. Disbursement figure of 10,000 crores.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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