At a time when agricultural drones have been changing the face of farming in some parts of the world, a Khulna University student has surprised many by building the device in Bangladesh.

Awaiting clearance for commercial production and use, the drone can spray a proper dose of pesticide onto the plant-eating critters below, preventing the use of hands and the subsequent health hazards of the farmers, and making sure that the farm has a maximum yield.

Equipped with cameras, the radio-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle also can save time.

For example, a farmer needs two to three hours to spray pesticides over a bigha of farmland. The drone can do that in just half an hour, said its maker Kazi Mahmud Hasan, a masters student of the Khulna University’s electronics and communication engineering department.

The farmer-friendly device, which weighs just five kgs, has already completed successful test runs, Mahmud said, adding that he worked under the supervision of Shamim Ahsan, an associate professor of his department.

The Tk 4 lakh project is financed by the science and technology ministry. The work began immediately after the ministry approved it in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Later, Mahmud took permission from the civil aviation ministry for flying the drone.

The brainchild of Mahmud can fly up to 300 metres and around 38 kilometres an hour with three litres of pesticide. Once fully charged, it can stay in the air for 25 minutes.

“Our agriculture sector will benefit immensely if we use the drone commercially,” he said.

Asked, Prof Shamim said, ”It might be a little difficult for a nontechnical person to use the drone. Once we get the clearance, we have a plan to hand over the drone to the Department of Agricultural Extension at first. Farmers will use the device on the instructions of the local agriculture officers.

“If the process is monitored properly, it is possible to prevent the overuse of pesticides in the field,” he said, expressing hope that they would get full government support in this regard.

In 2015, agriculturalists used drones to monitor farmlands in the southern districts of Barisal and Patuakhali for the first time in Bangladesh.

Equipped with a set of cameras, the radio-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles rapidly assessed the condition of crops on a large scale without going through the tedious and time-consuming manual sampling.