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Greenpeace launches campaign on soil fertility


New Delhi : Environmental organisation Greenpeace Tuesday launched a nationwide campaign seeking implementation of government policies to save the soil from the harmful impact of chemical fertilizers.

The Living Soils Campaign will bring out the realities at the grassroots level concerning soil health and soil fertility management policies of the central government by conducting social audits.

The campaign will also examine the newly launched nutrient based subsidy (NBS) for chemical fertilizers and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana aimed at agriculture development.

“These will be reviewed using a participatory approach, basically to examine their capability to solve the soil degradation crisis and the impending food security threat” said S.R. Gopikrishna, sustainable agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The campaign assumes significance in the context of the central government acknowledging an agrarian crisis due to soil degradation and initiating a reform in its fertilizer subsidy policy.

As part of the campaign, a series of social audits will be organised in selected districts of Assam, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Karnataka.

“The information, observations, data, and insights collected from the grassroots will be compiled and submitted to the policy makers at the centre and respective states,” he said.

Soil is an ecosystem which is home to several living organisms. Organic matter both in terms of quality and quantity is vital to sustain life in this ecosystem.

Indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers gradually leads to its degradation. Deteriorated or dead soil leads to reduced productivity of agricultural system.

“Any policy in agriculture will be successful, only if we have a vibrant soil ecosystem. If the soils are dead, all investments in agriculture will go waste,” said Amiya Sharma, executive director, Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi (RGVN).

“There is an urgent need to act on a comprehensive policy to support ecological fertilization practices. This is critical to ensure food security of the country,” Sharma said.

Every year the central government spends around Rs.50,000 crore on chemical fertilizer subsidies and this catalyzes intensive chemical fertilizer usage.

The NBS policy, which was introduced to correct this problem, continues to support only chemical fertilizers, and hence fails in its own cause, Sharma said.

Apart from the direct visible impacts, the manufacture and use of chemical fertilizers also contribute to emission of greenhouse gases, and thus climate change.

Several states in the country including Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Uttarakhand have initiated policies to support ecologically-friendly farming.