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Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi Interacts with Farmers During Visit to Central Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institute in Budni, MP

Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare), visited the Central Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institute in Budni, (M.P.) to review the institute's training, testing, and demonstration activities in the agricultural mechanization field.

Shivam Dwivedi
Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi Interacts with Farmers During Visit to Central Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institute in Budni, MP
Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi Interacts with Farmers During Visit to Central Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institute in Budni, MP

During his visit, he met with the Institute's Director and personnel and viewed the various training and testing laboratories. The institute is the sole tractor testing centre in the country, as well as a National designated authority for testing tractors according to OECD standards, which supports tractor export.

Under the Central Motor Vehicle Act, the institute is also authorized by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to test tractors, power tillers, combine harvesters, and other self-propelled agricultural machines.

The Institute also features a testing facility for mass emission of engine exhaust gases, which is a mandatory requirement under CMVR. He praised the institute's facilities as well as the excellent work it is doing to promote agricultural mechanization in the country. The CFMTTI Budni is already in the process of obtaining DGCA accreditation as a Remote Pilot Training Organization (RPTO), where drone pilots will be taught, in order to promote drone technology in agriculture.

The Institute is also in the process of upgrading its existing teaching facilities in order to build it as a Centre of Excellence in Farm Mechanization through industry associations. The load vehicle, which is tailormade equipment for tractor drawbar performance, is the only one of its kind available at Budni Institute and was obtained by the institute from the United Kingdom in 1988. In collaboration with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, efforts are being undertaken to build this load car in-house using the most up-to-date Data Acquisition System.

Dr. Likhi was also present for demonstrations of many upgraded agricultural machines, such as agricultural drones. During his interaction with the farmers, he briefed them on the agricultural mechanization interventions undertaken by the Department under the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM), which is being implemented through the State Governments with the main objectives of increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers, as well as to regions where farm power availability is low, and promoting 'Custom Hiring Centres' to offset the adverse economies of skewed labour markets.

SMAM provides financial help for the purchase of agricultural machines at 40% to 50% of the cost, depending on the categories of farmers, in order to make machines and equipment more affordable to farmers. Rural youth and farmers are also given financial assistance worth 40% of the project cost, as well as Cooperative Societies of Farmers, Registered Farmers Societies, Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), and Panchayats, for the establishment of Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) and Hi-tech hubs of high-value agricultural machines.

Financial help of 80% of the project cost is offered to Cooperative Societies, Registered Farmer Societies, FPOs, and Panchayats for the establishment of village level Farm Machinery Banks (FMBs). The rate of financial assistance for the formation of FMBs in the North Eastern States is 95% of the project cost for projects up to Rs. 10 lakhs.

He went on to say that drone technology in agriculture has enormous potential for enhancing crop management uniformity and efficiency, as well as lowering costs and minimizing human exposure to dangerous working conditions.  The government has previously said in the Union Budget 2022-23 that the use of Kisan Drones for crop evaluation, digitization of land records, and spraying of insecticides and nutrients will be encouraged.

In response to the unique benefits of drone technologies in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the use of drones in pesticide and nutrient application, which provide concise instructions for effective and safe drone operations.

To promote the use of drones in agriculture and make drone technology more affordable to farmers and other stakeholders in the sector, financial assistance at 100% of the cost of the drone, as well as contingent expenditure, is being extended under the Sub- Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) to Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes, Institutions of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) for its demonstration. Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) receive 75% funding for the procurement of drones for demonstration on farmers' fields.

Financial assistance of 40% of the basic cost of the drone and its attachments or Rs.4 lakhs, whichever is less, is also provided for drone purchase by existing and new Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs) under Cooperative Society of Farmers, Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs), and Rural entrepreneurs. Agriculture graduates who create CHCs are eligible for financial aid of 50% of the cost of the drone, up to a maximum of Rs.5.00 lakhs. The subsidized purchase of agricultural drones for CHCs/Hi-tech Hubs will make the technology more affordable to them, resulting in more uptake. This would make drones more accessible to the average Indian, as well as considerably boost domestic drone production.

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