New Delhi, Feb 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will next week launch a central scheme in Rajasthan that aims to provide soil health cards to over 14 crore farmers in the next three years to check overuse of fertilisers in farm lands.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to launch the scheme on February 19 at Suratgarh in Ganganagar district, Rajasthan, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told PTI.
The country has a total cultivable land of 14.1 crore hectares and the government plans to take 2.48 lakh samples from all states and test the quality of soil in three years.
Samples in irrigated areas will be drawn in a grid of 2.5 hectares, while that of in rain-fed areas in 10 hectares. The state governments will prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.
Asked if these many samples would be possible to test amid lack of manpower, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said, "At a district level, approximately 13,000 samples need to be tested in a year.
This is very much possible." To overcome staff shortage, the state governments are allowed to outsource the work to private agencies and also allowed to use lab facilities in science colleges and employ junior research fellows for this purpose, the official added.
The scheme assumes importance as the imbalanced application of fertilisers have caused deficiency of primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), secondary nutrients (such as sulphur), and micro-nutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.) in most parts of country.
Though a few states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have made progress in soil testing but no uniform norms are followed in the country for soil analysis and distribution of soil health cards.
The central scheme aims to address this issue. The scheme will be implemented in all states to promote soil testing services, issue of soil health cards and development of nutrient management practices.