Guwahati, Monday, November 15, 2010
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Call for declaring soil as national resource
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, Nov 14 – Declare soil as a “national resource” and have a separate Ministry of Land Resource with administrative, financial and statutory powers, recommends the Soil Conservation Society of India.

Rampant abuse of land through unscientific mining, farming and other industrial purposes is posing grave threat to this precious resource that sustains living creatures on the Earth.

The Society consisting of eminent scientists from across the country, after its three-day conference here, recommended policy-makers that it is important for India to have the Ministry of Land Resource and departments of Land Resource at the State levels with adequate powers.

“Land is one of the basic resources which supports almost all living creatures on Earth and even usable water resource. There is no organisation at the national level to care and sustain this precious resource for present and posterity,” the draft of the Society, said.

The scholars and scientists also said, soil must be declared a “national resource.” While the land may belong to anyone, the soil belongs to the Nation, the draft said. Soil and water forms the basic “infrastructure of any agriculture practice.”

In India, the soil quality has declined due to overuse of urea and other subsidised fertilisers. The Cabinet therefore wants to de-control prices of fertilisers and wants subsidy based on nutrient content and not product-based.

Urea, which is heavily subsidised, is randomly used by farmers without taking soil needs into consideration. Overuse of primary nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and less use of secondary nutrients and micro-nutrients, such as zinc sulphur, gypsum, copper sulphate, etc., has degraded soil quality.

The secondary and micro-nutrients, although required in small amount, is vital for maintaining soil fertility, scientists say, adding, a nutrient-based subsidy regime would encourage fertliser companies to innovate new products which would provide farmers a wider option to grow crops based on soil needs.

The National conference also recommended after its deliberation that the Centre must subsidise farming or else millions of poor would suffer.

“Subsidise farming. The whole world does it. Europe and USA subsidise farming to the tune of 30 – 40 per cent. Some countries like France subsidise farming to the extent of 80 per cent,” the draft, read out by the Society’s senior vice president JK Singh, said.

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