New Delhi: The NDA government initiated the soil health card for farmers a year after assuming office, bringing to the Centre an idea Narendra Modi had implemented in Gujarat when he was the State’s chief minister. It has made a huge difference to farming and farm produce. It has helped in increasing the productivity and reducing the cost of production. Prime Minister Modi had inaugurated the scheme on 19 February 2015, in Suratgarh, Rajasthan.
A soil health card provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendations on appropriate dosage of nutrients for improving soil health and its fertility. This also gives farmers information about the nature of the soil. Post-recommendations, the farmers use fertilisers and other chemicals accordingly.
A card carries crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilisers required for the individual farms to help farmers improve productivity through a judicious use of inputs. All soil samples are to be tested in various soil testing labs across the country. Thereafter, the experts analyse the strength and weaknesses (micronutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest ways to deal with it. The result and suggestion is displayed in the cards. The government plans to issue the cards to 14 crore farmers.
This reduces the cost and increases production. In the first 2 years of the soil health card scheme, 2.53 million samples were collected and so far 93% samples have been tested. State governments are creating about 14 crore soil health cards. Up to 31 May, 8 crore farmers have received the card. In the next 3 months, the rest will receive their cards. The country has witnessed several positive outcomes from the card.
The response from farmers of 136 districts of 16 States is inspiring. Consumption of nitrogen fertilisers has decreased and the consumption of phosphorus potash and micronutrients has increased. There has been a 16 to 25% reduction in the cost of paddy farming and 10 to 15% reduction in pulses and oilseeds farming. The production of paddy has increased by 10 to 25%. The production of coarse cereals has increased 10 to 15%. The yield of pulses has increased 10 to 30%. Production of oilseeds has witnessed an increase by 35 to 66%.
Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal were late to issue soil health cards under the scheme of the Union government. Until February 2016, against the target of 104 lakh soil samples, States had reported a collection of 81 lakh soil samples and tested 52 lakh samples. If the States had performed better in this regard, the results from the agricultural sector would have obviously been much better.