Climbing atop a wooden stilt Suhas Mhatre keeps a watch over his grape farm in Maharashtra’s Sangli, as a dizzying heat wave takes hold. Another pair of unflinching eyes is recceing his farm this summer—that of an agriculture drone, flying just under 150 feet. The exercise is part of a hi-tech national mission to map key horticulture regions across 180 districts. It’s an unusual sight, Mhatre says over the phone. Never before in India have drones flown over grape fields, and this one is sweeping the air over select locations in his district.
To address challenges of India’s largely antiquated agriculture sector, the government is quietly turning to scientific prowess, harnessing everything from android apps and drones to satellites.