India's soil health needs urgent attention

Greenpeace demands National Ecological Fertilisation Mission in the Budget

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Press release - February 2, 2011
New Delhi, Feb 3, 2011: Releasing the report of the first-ever social audit of soil health and support systems in India titled, Of Soils, Subsidies and Survival, Greenpeace today said the state of country’s soil health needs urgent attention to prevent further deterioration and urged the government to institute a National Ecological Fertilisation Mission in the upcoming Union Budget.

The Living Soils Report assesses the impact of government policies on soil health across five states and finds out that indiscriminate chemical fertiliser usage, catalyzed by a lenient subsidy policy and neglect of ecological fertilisation is posing a threat to soil health and future food security of the country.

Launching the report, noted film director Anusha Rizvi said: “Our farmers have been practicing eco-friendly techniques to enrich soil, using materials produced from their farm itself from times immemorial. But with the advent of chemical-intensive farming and its aggressive promotion, our farmers have become dependent on external resources. This, along with natural resource degradation, is leading them to a dire situation.”

Greenpeace India campaigner and co-author of the report, Gopikrishna SR said: “The soil is in very poor health but we have not yet reached the stage where we have lost it completely. Even now farmers can reclaim their soil by shifting away from chemical fertilizers to ecological fertilisation, which will not only fix the problems in their soil but also provide sustained production.

The report notes that, while the Union Government spent Rs 49,980 crore during 2009-10 to promote chemical fertilisers, the total amount spent on the other flagship schemes that has components to promote ecological fertilisation is only Rs 5,374.72 crore, almost one tenth of the amount spent on chemical fertilisers. Considering the fact that the ecological fertilisation, is one of the several components that gets assistance under these schemes, the support for the same is negligible.

It also notes that only 1% of the farmers surveyed received any kind of Government support for practising ecological fertilisation. 98% of the surveyed farmers were ready to use organic fertilisers if these are subsidised and made easily available.

The consistent use of chemical fertilsers over the years has destroyed the natural soil ecosystem, which is one of the basic natural resources that supports life on Earth. Soil is a complete ecosystem, which is home to several living organisms which make soil alive. A living soil ecosystem nurtures and nourishes plants by providing a healthy medium to take roots and through a steady supply of nutrients, the report notes.

Dr OP Rupela, veteran scientist and co-author of the report said: “Ecological fertilisers are natural, environment friendly and locally available. In most cases, farmers can themselves grow these or produce these on their farm, which in itself can improve agricultural productivity and generate livelihood opportunities in rural India.”

Under its Living Soils campaign, Greenpeace conducted social audits on the central government’s Soil Health Management policies and schemes in selected districts of Assam, Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab from July to November 2010. It also surveyed 1,000 farmers (200 each from a selected district in each state) to bring out their perceptions and observations on soil health and also to understand the impact of soil health management policies in these locations. The findings were presented in Jansunvais (public hearings) organised at each location along with local groups.

The report is unique in that it brings together scientific literature as well as farmers’ views. It gives special attention to farmers and takes their ground-level experiences and observations about their soils. The Greenpeace report defines healthy soil; the need for ecological fertilisation; the intensive use of synthetic fertiliser usage and its impacts and also central government policies and schemes on soil health management.

“We hope that the government will take note of the situation and allocate sufficient funds in the Union Budget for the promotion of ecological fertilisation and make provision for the same in the Twelfth Five Year Plan as well,” demanded Gopikrishna, the Greenpeace Sustainable Agriculture campaigner.



Enclosed in the Press kit is:

• Of Soils, Subsidies & Survival – A Living Soils Report

• Executive Summary of the Report

• A Media Brief



For More Information, Contact:

Gopikrishna SR, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace India

Mobile: +91 9900897341, Email:


Rahul Kumar, Media Consultant, Greenpeace India

Mobile: +91 9811329116, Email: