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DJI sees higher demand for agricultural drones

By Fan Feifei in Shenzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-21 11:27
A trainee learns to fly a DJI drone next to the instructor (R) at a drone training school on the outskirts of Beijing, July 27, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

DJI Innovation Technology Co, China's largest commercial drone manufacturer, will continue to increase its investment in agricultural drones and the cultivation of drone operators, in a bid to help farmers improve the efficiency of spraying pesticide and increase the use ratio of chemicals.

The company said more than 10,000 drone operators are using DJI's farm-specific drone MG series, estimating the sales of such drones will reach 45,000 units in 2020.

It is bullish about the prospects for drones and will step up efforts to train more professional drone operators, even though the profitability of the agricultural drone sector is not yet clear.

"We don't focus on how to earn profits, but training people to operate the agricultural drones in the short term, as well as helping them develop a business model, which is in accordance with our corporate culture and medium- and long-term strategy," said Luo Zhenhua, vice-president of DJI.

Luo added that the demand for agricultural drones is huge and "whether the drone manufacturers should make money in the industry chain of farm-specific drones is worth discussing."

The Shenzhen-based company launched its latest agricultural drone-MG-1S Advanced, which upgrades the radar, spraying and dynamic systems to increase the working efficiency and accuracy. Drone operators who use such drones could spray about 600 mu (40 hectares) of pesticide each day.

In November 2015, Shenzhen-based DJI launched its first agricultural drone, the MG-1, marking its diversification into the industry-level drone market.

Last year, it unveiled an upgraded agricultural drone, MG-1S, which is equipped with an advanced flight control system, radar and sensors. Moreover, a series of financial services to support the drones' purchasing, operation and related training were provided.

The sales of these drones have accounted for 70 percent of the domestic farm-specific drone market. The company recently cut the price of such drones.

With the modernization of agriculture, the demand for advanced farming devices has been growing significantly. The penetration rate of agricultural drones will reach more than 40 percent in 2023 in China's agricultural sector, with sales reaching 16 billion yuan ($2.4 billion), industry statistics showed.

The government has issued policies to promote the use of modern agricultural machinery, which include offering subsidies to encourage the use of drones in agriculture.

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