India is emerging as a new drone producing nation. The government is helping to boost the industry. Garuda Aerospace is one of India’s most promising startups.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the dispatch of 100 locally made spraying drones to different parts of the country. In recent months, Indian policy makers have announced multiple tax incentives and subsidies for drone manufacturing and sales. The Indian government has now also banned the import of drones. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is about to take on a new leadership in the drone sector. “More than 200 drone start-ups are currently working in the country, and soon their numbers will increase to 1,000, which will create huge job opportunities.”
Garuda Aerospace in Chennai, a company that is backed by Silver Swan Capital, supplied the agricultural drones featured in Modi’s recent demonstration. The company, that also focuses on mapping, delivery and surveillance, has already completed deals to export 8,000 drones to clients in Panama, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.
Modi also opened two new facilities for Garuda Aerospace. According to Chief Executive Agnishwar Jayaprakash this has allowed the company to ramp up its manufacturing capacity. “Earlier, we could make up to 30 drones per day, but with the new units we can produce up to 150 drones a day. We had the opportunity to invest and expand this way thanks to new orders and the corresponding encouraging revenue.”
According to Jayaprakash, selling agricultural drones to foreign countries means that Garuda will have to set up an assembly facility and provide support services in each country as well. “They will give us land and manpower support. We’ll send a small team with parts, tools, and equipment to supervise and provide training.”
The Indian start-up has pledged to manufacture 600,000 drones by 2025. The company says its affordable drone solutions are backed by hardware, software and analytical tools that will improve efficiency and reduce cost for the agriculture industry. Garuda Aerospace emphasises the fact that drones will help farmers save up to 80% on irrigation and up to 90% on pesticides. And it will also take less time to cover large farming areas.
But drone manufacturers in India are still relying on imports – mainly from China – for a large number of components, including motors, communication systems and cameras. Overseas suppliers are not keen on setting up manufacturing operations in India, given the current low volumes. But, with the recent support of the Indian government, demand for drones is expected to skyrocket in the years ahead.