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Nagaland gets its first soil testing laboratory

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Sep 25, 2021 12:21 am
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G Kishan Reddy with Neiba Kronu and other officials after the inauguration of the State Soil Testing Laboratory in Kohima on Friday. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Sep. 24 (EMN): Union Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) G Kishan Reddy inaugurated the State Soil Testing Laboratory at the Directorate of Soil and Water Conservation in Kohima, on Friday.

The laboratory, which is funded by Northeast Council (NEC) Ministry of DoNER, is first such facility in the state.

“Establishment of soil testing laboratory, building and equipment will help boost the rural sector and agriculture by enabling systematic collection of soil samples and analysis,” said Reddy, adding that it will also aid in timely generation of test reports through soil health cards.

Stressing on the importance of technological intervention in soil, he said a fertile soil can make a major difference in the quality and yield in agricultural and horticultural products.

The union minister said that Nagaland is the home to bamboo shoot, kiwi, cardamon, pineapple and Naga chilli, which was exported to London for the first time this year. He exuded confidence that the soil testing facility will help farmers in the state to produce more and not only export to other states but to neighbouring countries.

He added that the facility will benefit the farmers, research scholars, students, policy makers, land use departments, and Agri and allied departments.

“I am pleased with the quality of equipment; the laboratory is equipped with more compatible instruments to analyse both macro and micro nutrients,” he said, adding, “It is a state-of-art system and I am sure that the agricultural fraternity in Nagaland will benefit”.

He also told the department officials to start the soil testing activity from the block and district levels, saying that equipment for the block level has been made available. He assured Centre’s support to the farmers.

‘Centre focusing on NE’

G Kishan Reddy (EM Images)

The minister also said that the north-eastern region has been an area of focus for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who sees the region as a land of opportunity, investment, employment generation, manufacturing sector, IT, tourism, and a land of national plants.

“With snow-capped peaks, fast flowing rivers, large valleys and breathtaking landscapes, each of the north-eastern states have a wealth of tourist destinations,” said Reddy.

He maintained that the Centre is working on effectively managing soil quality to make agriculture more productive, sustainable, climate resilient and conserve natural resources.

The minister asserted that Soil Health Management (SHM) is one of the most important interventions under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) and that soil health dashboard of the Agriculture ministry provides detailed information on various parameters.

He stated that INR 6,000 crore was allocated to the NE states and urged the farmers in Nagaland and the region to avail the benefits.

Need infrastructure at district level — Kronu

The minister for Planning and Coordination, Land Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs, Neiba Kronu, pointed out the need to have infrastructure for soil testing in all the districts, saying that the soil is acidic that becomes difficult for zoning of crop. Citing this, he urged the ministry of DoNER to look into it.

Asserting that the department of Soil and Water Conservation is performing well, he stressed on the need for more infrastructure in order to reach out to all the blocks.

Meanwhile, he maintained that Nagaland has rich soil and biodiversity.

“What the mainland (other India states) cannot do, that we can do but what the mainland can do, that we cannot do and our soil is considered to be one of the youngest soils in the world; our soil is fertile because we have the forest and the rainfall is moderate,” he said.

However, he said that soil testing is necessary though it is fertile as some soil are acidic.

Pointing out that Nagaland can give low volume of high value products which are not easily perishable, he said cardamom, kiwi, apple, persimmon and avocado, besides grow well in the state besides coffee.

Lab costs INR 3.71 crore

The director of Soil and Water Conservation, K Zhekheto Awomi, said while presenting the technical report about the new facility that it was approved by the Centre on June 29, 2017 before the work commenced on March 29, 2018 at a cost of INR 371.70 lakh (about INR 3.71 crore), wherein the NEC’s share (90%) was INR 334.53 lakh, and state’s share (10%) INR 37.17 lakh.

He informed that the objective of the project was to assess the nutrient and fertilizer status and requirement of the soil; to create awareness about the importance of maintaining soil health for sustainable production of agricultural commodities; to issue soil health card as per requirement after appropriate testing and analysis of soil sample; and soil health management through creating awareness on balanced use of fertilisers.

Awomi maintained that the Soil and Water Conservation department has sufficient trained personnel to man the new laboratory as well as to impart training to the farmers. He added that all the technical officers of the department from Agri and Allied background had mandatorily underwent four months course training on Soil and Water Conservation and Watershed Management at ICAR-IISWC, Dehradun.

He added that around 15 Soil Conservation Assistants had been trained in “laboratory methods of soil analysis for land resource inventory” at ICAR-NBSSLUP, Jorhat, Assam.

He further informed that the Soil Survey and Land Use Planning wing of the Directorate regularly conducts refresher training courses for junior officers and sub-ordinate staff of the posted in various districts.

Collection of soil samples from the fields will be done by field officers and technical staff in their respective districts, informed the director, adding that the lab can test more than one lakh samples per year for 13 parameters such as primary and secondary macro nutrients, micronutrients and others.

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Sep 25, 2021 12:21:17 am