National

Soil Health Card scheme takes off gingerly

Centre launches portals for organic product certification, fertilizer quality

The Narendra Modi government is projecting its programme for issuance of Soil Health Cards (SHC) to farmers as a “flagship programme” but so far against a target of 84 lakh cards, only 34 lakh have been issued. Some of the States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal have not issued a single card to farmers against the targets set for them for 2015-16.

This emerged during a presentation made by Integrated Nutrient Management officials before Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh who launched the web portals for Soil Health Card, Participatory Guarantee System-India (Certifying Organic Products), and Fertilizer Quality Control System.

“These are flagship programmes in the farm sector aimed at improving soil health and reducing input costs for farmers,” the Minister said, adding that the implementation lay with States.

The Soil Health Card is a printed report that will be given to farmers once in three years for each of his/her land holding. It will contain crucial information on macro nutrients in the soil, secondary nutrients, micro nutrients, and physical parameters. The card will be accompanied by an advisory on the corrective measures that a farmer should take to improved soil health and obtain a better yield.

So far the Andhra Pradesh has taken the lead in disbursement of the Soil Health Cards to farmers. Tamil Nadu and Punjab exceeded targets for collection of soil samples during the kharif season. But while Tamil Nadu has not even started distribution of cards, Punjab had disbursed 27,307 till July 7, according to the official data made available here.

Till July 7, Andhra Pradesh had distributed 16.3 lakh cards followed by Uttar Pradesh that disbursed 47,378, Punjab (27,307), Chhattisgarh (22,570), Telangana (15,171) and Odisha (10,245).

Kerala, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh among others have not even begun to collect soil samples for testing, while the data for Karnataka was not available.

The Soil Health Card portal allows for registration for collection of soil samples along with testing in approved labs. The important aspect of the portal is that it not only gives an assessment to a farmer about use of major fertilizers but also micro-nutrients which are missing in his field and which must be added for a balanced soil. Information is given for different crops.

The system envisages building up a single national database on soil health for future use in research and planning. A total of 2.53 crore samples will be collected and tested to generate 14 crore Soil Health Cards to farmers once in three years.

Samples are collected in post-rabi and post-kharif harvests when there is no standing crop in the field. Samples are sent to state laboratories or can even be tested in mobile labs. The cost is borne by the Centre which has set aside Rs. 568.54 crore for a period of three years.

The Fertilizer Quality Control System web gives information on the quality of imported fertilizers at ports while States check the quality of indigenously manufactured fertilizers.

India imports 25 to 30 per cent of its requirement of urea, 90 per cent requirement of DAP (Di ammonium Phosphate) and 100 per cent MOP (Muriate of Potash).

The Participatory Guarantee System portal provides for online registration, approval, documentation, record of inspection and Certification of organic products produced by a farmer.

It is said to be cost-effective and farmer-friendly.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 1:52:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/soil-health-card-scheme-takes-off-gingerly/article7431232.ece

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