Agricultural drone makers eye overseas markets

By FAN FEIFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-28 07:12
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Technicians in Australia load a drone with grass seeds for post-fire recovery work. Photo provided to CHINA DAILY

Widespread use

With the modernization of agriculture, demand for advanced farming devices has grown significantly. According to experts, agricultural drones are widely used for sowing seeds and spraying fertilizers and pesticides, increasing the efficiency and management of plant protection and grain production.

Justin Gong, co-founder of XAG, said: "A shortage of agricultural labor has become a long-term problem for many countries, who are making stronger demands for autonomous drones and robots. We hope to bring more unmanned farming devices to overseas markets through working with local partners and distributors."

Gong said farmers in Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and other South American countries with complex terrain attach more importance to the flexibility and precision of spraying, and farm drones are mainly used in banana, cocoa, coffee and sugar cane plantations.

"In the next few years, we expect agricultural drones to be used on a larger scale in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and South America," Gong added.

He said XAG, which is based in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, will step up efforts to expand its presence in Ukraine and Brazil-two major grain producing areas. The company is also looking for opportunities in Southeast Asia and in Japan and South Korea, which have solid foundations for agricultural machinery.

"We are confident of bringing mature products and solutions to overseas markets and of improving agricultural production efficiency worldwide," Gong said. He added that XAG's overseas sales have grown rapidly despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and will gradually become an important part of the company's overall revenue.

The degree to which agricultural drones are accepted in overseas markets depends on local laws and regulations as well as farmers' awareness of new technologies.

XAG is carrying out technology promotion, education and drone training to cultivate more young pilots.

As of December, the company's unmanned agricultural devices had been sold in 42 countries and regions. Apart from drones, XAG has introduced farm robots in Japan, the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ukraine, Russia and Brazil.

In June, the company's R150 unmanned ground vehicles made their debut in Japan, pollinating an apple orchard in the city of Takayama to help alleviate a labor shortage.

Civil drones comprise consumer-level and industry-level equipment. Industry experts said growth of the civil drone market is mainly coming from consumer-level devices used for aerial photography, but the industry-level sector will end up being worth much more.

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