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1-min read

Centre Launches Pilot Project to Develop Model Villages Aimed at Improving Soil Health

With the indiscriminate use of fertilizers post the Green Revolution, soil health in India declined rapidly over the years. Indian farmers have been reported to be using around 66 million tonnes of fertilizers ever year.

Aditya Sharma | News18.com@aditya_shz

Updated:December 3, 2019, 5:49 PM IST
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Centre Launches Pilot Project to Develop Model Villages Aimed at Improving Soil Health
Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. (Image: Twitter/@loksabhatv)

New Delhi: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched a pilot project ‘Development of Model Villages’ to improve soil sampling and health in the country, minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

“The programme promotes farm holding based soil sample collection and testing with farmers’ participation,” he said. Under the pilot project, which was launched in current financial year 2019-20, one village in each block has been identified for the implementation.

With the indiscriminate use of fertilizers post the Green Revolution, soil health in India declined rapidly over the years. Indian farmers have been reported to be using around 66 million tonnes of fertilizers ever year.

To tackle this, the Centre in 2015 launched the Soil Health Card Scheme (SHC) to help farmers increase productivity by issuing crop wise soil cards, which carry recommendation of nutrients and fertilisers needed for the crop.

The recommendations are intended to encourage farmers to adopt the Integrated Nutrient Management for judicious use of fertilizers and crop planning.

“As per the study report submitted by National Productivity Council in 2017, the quantum of fertilizer application reduced from 8-10% and yield increase of 8-6% was observed when the SHC recommendations were followed by the farmers,” the minister told the house.

The minister added that the scheme is being monitored through “weekly video conferencing with all states including Delhi and National Capital Region.”

The scheme provides for the collection of soil samples from a grid size of 2.5 in irrigated and 10 ha in unirrigated area. These samples are tested for 12 parameters in soil labs across the country.

On the question on number of soil testing laboratories in the country, the Minister said there are “7949 soil testing labs including 1293 static Soil Testing Laboratories (STLs), 165 Mobile STLs, 6337 Mini Labs & 154 Village Level STLs in the country.”

“The vision document (15th Finance Commission period) of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) envisages for establishment of at least one soil testing lab in each district of the country,” he added.

According to data released by the Ministry, more than 10.73 crore soils cards were issued to farmers in the first cycle in 2015-16. The following year, more 13.11 crore cards were issued to farmers. In 2019-20, 10.98 lakh farmers availed the benefit under the scheme.

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