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Driving change in Indian agriculture: An assessment of the SHC program

  • time Dec 28, 2023
  • calendar 1 min

The Indian government launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) program to improve soil quality. MSC conducted a behavioral and national study to assess beneficiaries’ awareness, availability, and program usage. The government initiated a pilot program to improve its effectiveness and tested 2.3 million soil samples in 7,000 villages.

The Indian government’s Soil Health Card (SHC) program seeks to enhance soil quality in agricultural land through education of farmers on proper fertilizer use. MSC undertook a comprehensive behavioral study to identify barriers and triggers that influence SHCs’ adoption alongside a nationwide study to evaluate beneficiaries’ awareness, accessibility, and program usage.

MSC used a mixed-methods study design and employed qualitative and quantitative research components. For the qualitative research, the MSC team interacted with 150 farmers and officials from the districts’ soil testing labs and agriculture departments. It surveyed more than 11,000 farmers using a cross-sectional design and multistage stratified random sampling for the quantitative research.

The findings from MSC’s study shed light on crucial aspects of the SHC program. They revealed that farmers had low awareness and limited access to SHCs, which led to a lack of understanding about the program’s purpose. Based on these findings, MSC recommended the implementation of a “local ecosystem” approach to enhance the program’s effectiveness. This approach sought to offer near real-time soil health analysis and specialized advisory services to encourage SHCs’ uptake.

In response to MSC’s recommendations, the Indian government launched a pilot program called “Development of Model Villages.” This initiative tested 2.3 million soil samples in 7,000 villages, which showcased a proactive step to improve the program’s impact.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned the project.

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