Finance Minster Arun Jaitley's claims on the scheme are exaggerated
In his attempt to show the government’s commitment to farmers, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely said that issuance of soil health cards has “gathered momentum” in the past year. But Ministry of Agriculture data suggests only 23 per cent of the 2017 target has been met till 18 October, 2016. A factsheet published in Down to Earth’s State of Environment 2017 highlights how the scheme, which was launched in February 2015, has faltered.
The scheme has three steps: collecting soil sample, testing the sample and finally distributing the soil health card. While 80.6% of the sample collection target (25 million) has been met, only 46.4% of the samples have been tested. Finally 31.54 million soil health cards have been printed.
In fact, 25 of the 33 states and Union Territories have not even met 50 per cent of their targets. The scheme has negligible presence in the Union Territories, where less than 1 per cent of the soil health card distribution target has been met.
Jaitely, in his 2017 budget speech, said the government will establish mini-labs in Krishi Vigyan Kendras to boost issuance of soil health cards. But with just five months left to meet the target, will the new mini-labs be able to clear the backlog of 77 per cent.
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