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NEW DELHI: More than 22 crore Soil Health Cards have been distributed to farmers across the country in two phases, said Union minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday.

Addressing the inaugural session of the National Conference on Soil Health Management for Sustainable Farming, the minister said the government was developing infrastructure under the Soil Health Management scheme. “The scheme has a provision to set up different types of soil testing laboratories. So far, 499 permanent, 113 mobile, 8,811 mini and 2,395 village-level soil testing laboratories have been established."

Tomar added that there was a time when the policies were production-oriented. “Due to chemical farming, agricultural yield increased. But now the situation has changed. With climate change, keeping soil health intact is a big challenge."

He said that the lack of organic carbon in the soil is a serious concern. “To meet this serious challenge and for better soil health, we have to promote natural farming, which is beneficial for the environment."

The minister added that the Centre was working with states to promote natural farming. “The government has re-adopted the Indian Natural Farming System for Agriculture. Natural farming system is an ancient technique used by farmers for farming and at that time people also knew how-to live-in harmony with the nature."

Tomar said that states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu have made many innovations to promote natural farming. “During the last year, an additional area of 4.78 lakh hectares has been brought under natural farming in 17 States. To promote natural farming, the central government has approved the National Mission on Natural Farming as a separate scheme with an expenditure of 1,584 crore."

He added that under the Namami Gange programme, the project of natural farming is going on along the banks of the Ganges, while the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and all Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), Central and State Agricultural Universities and Colleges are making all-round efforts to promote natural farming. “Prime Minister Modi is committed towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Swati Luthra

Swati Luthra writes on climate change, water, environment and forest issues for Mint. A graduate in Psychology, Swati has been mapping India’s policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at CoP-26 including achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
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