Swasth Dhara Khet Hara
What is the Soil Health Card Scheme?
The Soil Health Card Scheme was launched in India by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare on February 19, 2015 at Suratgarh, Rajasthan. The project was rolled out with an initial budgetary allocation of ₹568.54 crore to be utilized over a period of 3 years.
The Scheme is a part of the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). For the fiscal year of 2021-22, ₹315 crore has been allocated for the National Project on Soil Health and Fertility.
Soil Health Card Scheme Objectives
The project aims to review the health of the soil across India in regular intervals of 2 years so as to maintain and enhance soil health and to reap better agricultural produce. The program also aims to identify the different types of soils in different parts of the country and to educate farmers on the proper usage of fertilizers, particularly organic fertilizers, for optimal agricultural produce. Additionally, the scheme will also generate employment.
What is the Soil Health Card (SHC)?
The SHC is a printed report card that is given to the farmer after the assessment of his holding(s). The assessment is made on the basis of 12 parameters that can be clubbed under 3 broad categories that will be studied to derive the condition of the soil. They are:
- Secondary- nutrients
- Micro – nutrients
- Physical parameters
The card will also educate the farmers on the nutrient status of their farm holdings and subsequently advise them on how to enhance the soil health, for example through optimum fertilizer dosages, for the long run.
Soil Health Card Scheme Overview
|Launch||February 19, 2015|
|Ministry||Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare|
|Department||Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare|
|Objective||To assess the current status of the soil’s health and to promote the judicious use of fertilizers. This will help farmers to plan their crops and make optimum use of the resources available for them.|
|Tagline||Swasth Dhara Khet Hara|
Soil Health Card Scheme Structure
The functioning of the scheme has been organized at 3 levels:
- National Level Advisory Committee
- State Level Committee
- District Level Executive Committee
The maximum amount of work, such as identifying beneficiaries and establishing soil testing laboratories, is being carried out at the district levels. The District Level Committee is headed by the Chairman.
Soil Testing Laboratories
Soil testing laboratories have been established all over the country. Aside from the obvious soil testing, the labs also aim to provide employment to the local youth of the district/block and to provide convenient testing facilities for all farmers to eliminate logistical problems. The entire process of collecting the soil sample to the final publication of the Soil Health Cards takes approximately 28-30 days. The government has also laid down guidelines for the establishment of laboratories.
Soil Health Card Scheme Implementation
The soil samples are collected from a 2.5 ha grid of land that has been irrigated. Comparatively, soil samples are taken from a 10 ha piece of land in areas that are irrigated by rain. The sample can be taken at two times during the year, i.e., after the harvest of the Rabi and Kharif crops.
Keeping in mind the effects of global warming, climate change and other natural stimuli, the government has planned that these examinations will be carried out routinely every 2/3 years.
The responsibility for the collection of these samples lies with the governments of respective States and Union Territories that will make use of the staff from the Department of Agriculture. Governments may also involve students studying agriculture, geology and related sciences in this process for hands-on fieldwork and volunteer opportunities.
Soil Health Card Scheme Portal
The government has created an online SHC portal for the convenience of the beneficiaries. Registered candidates can log in using their username and password. Additionally, farmers can also track the status of their sample, while in testing, online.
Soil Health Card Day
The Soil Health Card Day is celebrated on February 19 every year to commemorate the launch of the scheme on this day as aforementioned, in 2015. This year marked the 6th anniversary celebration of the SHC scheme.
Soil Health Card Scheme: Performance Over the Years
In the last 5 years since its inception, the Government of India has spent more than ₹750 crores on the implementation of the scheme. Of the targeted 2,72,19,794 samples in Cycle-II, 2,77,44,022 samples have been collected. Similarly, 11,97,76,344 SHCs have been printed and sent to respective farmers.
In a report published by the Press Information Bureau of India in 2020, the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar declared that the scheme has led to a concrete boost in agricultural production in the 5 years of its implementation.
Aside from benefiting farmers, the scheme has also generated employment for agrarian youth. Under the SHC Scheme, people up to the age of 40 are eligible to set up Soil Health Laboratories.
Soil Health Card Scheme: Challenges Faced
- Lack of uniformity across states in the process followed for soil analysis and distribution of SHCs.
- Agriculture and allied industries have taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant lockdowns.
- More efforts required toward implementing the measures and advises as outlined by the analyses report cards.
- Small-scale farmers require technical assistance for the application of site-specific fertilizers.
Several other government schemes are also working in tandem for the holistic augmentation of the agricultural industry, its allied sectors and the people who depend on the same for their livelihood. Some of these schemes are:
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana
- Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY-RAFTAAR)
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY)
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY)
- Krishi Vigyan Kendras
- ARYA- Attracting and Retaining Youths in Agriculture
- Kisan Credit Card Scheme
- Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme
- Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana
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