Sambalpur: Paddy is the prime crop in Sambalpur district, as it is cultivated in 1.04 lakh hectares out of total 1.94 lakh hectares of cultivable land. That is, about 53.6 per cent of cultivable land is used for paddy.
According to a 2016 survey, there are about 120,851 farmers’ families of which 13 per cent are affluent, 38 per cent medium and 49 per cent small. The number of landless farmers is 133,943.
Soil health plays a major role in cultivation and the state government has taken up the task of creating awareness about it among farmers in the district. The farmers are convinced to get their soil tested in government soil testing laboratories. After the tests, they would be given Soil Health Cards (SHC). Agricultural officials are trying their best to convince the farmers why it is essential to get their soil tested in a lab before taking up any crop for cultivation there. Soil testing should be done every year or at best once in two years’ cycle. A source in the agriculture department said that soil testing data is endorsed in SHC issued to the farmer.
About 69,129 farmers were covered in the first phase of SHCs distribution in 2015-16 and 2016-17 cycles. The department has distributed about 15,689 SHC cards so far against the target of 87,850 in the second phase of the current year. That is 17.85 per cent achievement against the target.
Kuchinda block leads in the district with distribution of maximum number of 2245 SHCs; whereas the minimum 776 is in Jamankira block although it had the highest target of 12,495. Redhakhol block performed better: Out of given lowest target of 8330,
2021 SHCs have been distributed. The distribution of SHCs in the rest of the blocks is: Dhankauda 1,207 out of 9,520; Maneswar 1,718 out of 10,115; Jujumura 1,952 out of 10,710; Rengali 2,155 out of 8,925; Naktideul 1,640 out of 7,735 and Bamra 1,975 out of 9,905.
The testing and issuance of Soil Health Cards comprising the test results is an ongoing process in the district. The SHC is also mandatorily linked to Aadhar card of the farmer concerned. Some of the farmers’ organizations have demanded an alternative provision for those who don’t have Aadhar cards.