Overall ₹9,60,000 will be gained by the beneficiaries with the help of drones.
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved a scheme to provide around 15,000 drones to women’s self-help groups (SHGs) under its ‘Lakhpati Didi’ initiative for financial empowerment of rural Indian women. A total investment of ₹1,261 crore is planned for the scheme by March 2026, aiming to uplift rural women.
The scheme, part of the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana’s National Rural Livelihood Mission, aims to enhance the efficiency and ease of fertiliser spraying, reducing the use of fertilisers and pesticides. By March 2024, 500 drones will be acquired, with a total of 14,500 drones planned over two years. The cost of deploying each drone is around ₹10 lakh, with the government contributing 80% (up to ₹8 lakh) and the remainder can be financed through the National Agriculture Infrastructure Financing Facility.
Each drone will serve a cluster of 10-15 villages, covering 1,000 hectares of cultivable land, prioritising commercial crops. Women, at least 10th pass, will be trained as drone pilots (‘Drone Sakhi’), receiving a monthly income of ₹15,000. The training includes 5 days of flying and 10 days of field spraying. Additionally, one woman will be appointed as a co-pilot and assistant, earning ₹10,000 monthly, and SHG members will be trained for drone maintenance, earning ₹5,000 monthly. After expenses, each SHG is projected to have an annual income of about ₹1 lakh.
The scheme will be executed by regional fertiliser Public sector undertakings (PSUs) as the central nodal agency, responsible for selecting drone suppliers. Drones will be distributed to SHGs through cluster level federations that oversee SHGs in a particular region. The Agriculture Technology Management Agency and Agricultural Science Centres will conduct drone technology awareness and demonstrations. An empowered committee of secretaries will oversee the scheme’s smooth operation.