Are South African regulations stifling the drone-based agri-service industry, a potential game-changer for agriculture?
Mapping crop land is essential for farmers, as rely heavily on it for planning and management. UAS offer a great possibility for farmers as they can map large parts of land with low costs and easy transportation. Geographic Information System (GIS) maps can used both online and offline providing important information for farmers to plan irrigation design, check plant health and even monitor livestock.
According to this CTA article, despite the indeniable benefits from using UAS in agriculture, South Africa has one of the most restrictive regulations in the world for commercial use, including high costs and long procedure times. These regulations have resulted in giving away very few licenses to providers that do not necesseraly work with agriculture.
<>Moreover, these complicated procedures make it highly unlikely for a small scale farmer to decide to buy and use a drone. The author of the article finally suggests, mentionign the example of other countries, that it could be highly beneficial for farmers and agricultural productivity in general to eliminate Air Service Licenses (ASL) to fly drones, as it would simplify the process by reducing regulations and speeding up the process.
Source: CTA, Netherlands