Jan. 20, 2020
The Ministry also said that no permission or approval has been granted by the Central Insecticides Board (CIB) for spraying of pesticides using drones.
While extensive usage of drones to spray pesticide on agricultural fields is being reported from different parts of Telangana, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, in a reply to city-based activist Donthi Narasimha Reddy, said it was illegal as per the Insecticides Act of 1968. The Ministry also said that no permission or approval has been granted by the Central Insecticides Board (CIB) for spraying of pesticides using drones.
This comes as a shock as a city-based drone startup has been spraying pesticides in Telangana as well as Andhra Pradesh and as per reports, it has sprayed pesticide using drones in over 5,000 acres in both the States. It may be mentioned here that the State government has also been planning to use drones for spraying of insecticides in the city for mosquito control.
Reddy, in his letter to the CIB, wrote, “I wish to bring to your notice the increased usage of drones for agro-chemical spraying, especially highly-hazardous pesticides. We are also aware that farmers, and sprayers, ignore and/or cannot follow safety precautions under adverse weather and wind conditions.”
He further explained that the drift of spraying can take the fine hazardous chemical beyond the range of application. Reddy also pointed out,
“You are aware that Insecticide Act does not allow aerial spraying, in general. It was done long before drones have been conceived as an idea and technology. Presently, we need to expand the specific clause that restricts aerial spraying to include drones and unmanned machines. Drones and unmanned machines can be hazardous tools for spraying hazardous chemicals, in many ways.”
Voicing his concern, Reddy also asked the CIB to issue an advisory to all the concerned regulatory bodies. "Drone manufacturers, suppliers and the entire network have to be cautioned against using drone for aerial spraying of agro-chemicals. Strict monitoring has to be enabled through State Agricultural Departments," the activist urged in his letter.