The Union government has distributed 11.69 crore soil health cards in the last two years under a scheme that enables the country’s farmers to understand the soil health parameters and improve productivity. The soil health card scheme was launched by the Narendra Modi government to tackle a fall in soil nutrients. The use of soil health card has led to an 8-10% decline in the use of chemical fertilizers and raised productivity by 5-6%, according to a National Productivity Council study.
Under the phase I of the scheme, the central government had distributed 10.74 crore cards between 2015 and 2017. The states have been sanctioned 429 static labs, 102 new mobile labs, 8,752 mini labs and 1,562 village-level laboratories apart from strengthening the 800 existing labs.
The government is implementing Development of Model Villages, a pilot project for sampling and testing of soil in partnership with farmers in the current fiscal year. A model village is selected for collection and analysis of soil samples. At least 13.53 lakh soil health cards have been distributed under the scheme in 2019-20. The state governments will undertake the analysis of soil composition in every two years to take remedial steps to improve soil quality. The farmers can track soil samples and soil health card reports.
Apart from helping farmers improve productivity, the soil health management scheme also creates a large number of jobs for the rural youth. The scheme supports the farmers and the village youth to set up soil health laboratories to undertake testing. The central and state governments will fund 75% of the Rs 5 lakh needed to set up these laboratories. Self-help groups, farmers’ cooperative societies, farmers groups and agricultural producing organisations also can avail this help. Farmers and their organisations can submit their proposals to the deputy director (agriculture) / joint secretary (agriculture) or in their district offices. Details are available at www.agricoop.nic.in or soilhealth.dac.gov.in.