New Delhi: Gujarat is a role model for the rest of the country with respect to certification of agricultural land, with more than 70 per cent of the state`s farmers provided cards with information on the quality of their soil, a senior Agriculture Ministry officer said on Monday.
"Gujarat has emerged as a model in issuing soil health cards, where more than 70 per cent of the farmers have been provided with the cards in the last three years giving details of quality of the soil," Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperation Deputy Commissioner Dhruvendra Kumar said.
Southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are also doing well with regard to testing the micro-nutrient content of soil in order to help farmers increase productivity through prudent and balanced use of fertilisers, he said at a national workshop on `Soil Health Management & Support System` here.
The Centre provides fund to the states under different schemes -- such as the National Management of Soil Health and Fertiliser, Macro Management of Agriculture and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna -- for soil health cards.
Speakers at the workshop, organised by environment NGO Greenpeace, highlighted the declining soil health in different parts of the country due to the rampant use of chemical fertilisers provided by the government at a subsidised rate.
Speakers such as J Venkateswarlu, the former director of CAZRI, Jodhpur, emphasised on greater application of organic fertilisers for better soil health. Organic fertilisers are naturally-occurring fertilisers or naturally-occurring mineral deposits (eg saltpeter).
Naturally-occurring organic fertilisers include manure, slurry, worm castings, peat, seaweed and humic acid.
Kumar said though chemical fertilisers are not as widely used in India as some other countries, balanced use of chemical and organic fertilisers would be good for sustainability of soil.
"In India, the average usage of chemical fertilisers is about 128 kg per hectare, which is less than those in countries like China, Japan and South Korea, where it is in the range of 400-500 kg per hectare annually," he said.
Greenpeace media officer Seema Javed said the NGO carried out a survey on the soil health in five states -- Punjab, Orissa, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka -- during the past four months to assess the impact of the Nutrient-Based Subsidy (NBS) policy brought in by the UPA-II government.
The majority of farmers surveyed said they were aware of the harmful effects of chemical fertilisers and were willing to use organic fertilisers provided the government provided it at subsidised rates and made it easily available, she added.