India’s ‘drone sisters’ driving farming and social change

Al Jazeera
2024.03.07

Once a housewife in rural India, Sharmila Yadav always wanted to be a pilot. She is now living her dream somewhat, remotely flying a heavy-duty drone across the skies to cultivate the country’s farmland.

Yadav, 35, is among hundreds of women trained to fly fertiliser-spraying aircraft under the government-backed “Drone Sister” programme.

The scheme aims to help modernise Indian farming by reducing labour costs, as well as saving time and water in an industry hamstrung by its reliance on outdated technology and growing climate change challenges.

It is also a portent of rural India’s changing attitudes towards working women, who have traditionally found few opportunities to join the labour force and are often stigmatised for doing so.

She will pocket 50,000 rupees ($600) after spraying 150 acres (60 hectares) of farmland twice over five weeks, a little over double the average monthly income in her native Haryana state.

Read more here.

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