Private insurance companies are using drones to photograph farms and if permitted by the agriculture ministry these could provide data to calculate crop yield.
Insurers are using unmanned aerial vehicles as a pilot scheme. The agriculture ministry has called for use of such modern technology for the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
Drones have not gained widespread commercial use, as individuals need permission from local governments and other regulatory bodies to fly them. The government is also keen on using technology such as smartphones and remote sensing to reduce crop cutting experiments and help cut delay in payments to farmers.
The scheme, approved by the Cabinet, in January will have a uniform premium of two per cent to be paid by farmers for all kharif crops and 1.5 per cent for all rabi crops. For commercial and horticultural crops, the farmers’ premium is five per cent. The rest of the premium will be paid by the government.
Anuj Tyagi, member of executive management at HDFC ERGO General Insurance, said his company had conducted a project with drones in Rajasthan. “We think using drones will be a successful experiment,” he added.
He said in Rajasthan, his company had looked at data collected by drones as well as satellite images, and they were happy with the results. “However, this can be taken further only after more exhaustive testing.”
Additional weather-based devices and satellites will be used by the government for crop insurance. The weather department will map anomalies caused by rain, hail storms and floods.