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3 years after announcement, digital soil-testing labs yet to see light of day

In order to provide farmers an easy tool to check nutrients of the soil before opting for suitable crops in their farms, the Union agriculture ministry had announced to equip every gram panchayat in the country with a mini soil testing lab or “mridaparikshak”.

jaipur Updated: Jun 11, 2018 21:52 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times, Barmer
Farmers thresh harvested wheat crop on the outskirts of Ajmer in Rajasthan .(AFP Photo/Representative image )

Three years back, the Centre announced to equip gram panchayats with digital soil testing labs to provide the facility at the farmers’ doorsteps.

However, nothing much has moved on the ground. Three years on, not a single soil testing laboratory has been set up in Rajasthan’s Barmer and Jaisalmer districts, following which farmers are still using the traditional methods due to which uncertainty looms large over the quality of crops.

In order to provide farmers an easy tool to check nutrients of the soil before opting for suitable crops in their farms, the Union agriculture ministry had announced to equip every gram panchayat in the country with a mini soil testing lab or “mridaparikshak”. The decision was announced on the foundation day of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on July 25, 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the chief guest at the function, had emphasised on the need for issuing soil health cards to farmers.

The Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Soil Science, a research institute under the Natural Resource Management division of the ICAR developed a mini lab to determine soil health.

The mridaparikshak is a digital mobile soil testing kit that provides “soil fertility mapping” facility to farmers at their doorsteps. Any village entrepreneur, self help group, farmers’ groups, farmer cooperative societies, farm producer organisations, retail outlets, and schools or colleges located in the district can set up a soil testing lab.

A mini soil testing lab project costs ₹10 lakh.

The government also provides financial assistance to establish the soil testing lab. Despite this, until now, not a single soil testing lab has been established in the bordering districts said Pabu Singh, an official at the agricultural department in Barmer.

Until now not a single applicant has come forward to set up a mini lab, the official said.

The official further said that though the department is continuously making villagers aware about the scheme, so that interested applicants come forward set up soil testing labs, but no one has applied for setting up a soil testing lab.

Nandram Mali, a farmer in Barmer said since the past couple of decades farmers are using the traditional methods to understand soil health.

“At times we get good crop or sometimes the traditional methods fails and our expectations of good crops remains a dream,” he said. He further said that it would have been better if they have advance technology, which will help to calculate the exact parameters and help them to get good crops.

“Instead lying on people, the government itself should set up the soil testing labs for the benefit of the farmers.”

First Published: Jun 11, 2018 21:51 IST