Farmers in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh
As part of the Indian government’s efforts to transform the country’s 100 poorest districts, leaders worked with IDinsight to improve health, education, and economic indicators. Read more about IDinsight’s work on the Aspirational Districts Program to learn about how our team supported NITI Aayog, the government’s central policymaking unit. As part of this work, IDinsight supported the Ministry of Agriculture in two areas where there were opportunities for data and evidence to strengthen service provision.
Improving fertilizer use: Soil Health Card scheme
A critical issue in the Indian agriculture sector is farmers’ inefficient application of fertilizer, which compromises the long-term productivity of farm soil. Farmers often don’t have the information they need about how much to apply to improve their yield each year. To address this, the government had been providing personalized fertilizer recommendations to every single farmer on a Soil Health Card.
The Soil Health Card scheme, launched in February 2015, has distributed over 150 million cards to farmers throughout India. The expectation is that, by providing farmers with this information, the scheme can encourage judicious use of fertilizers to improve soil health and ultimately boost stagnating agricultural productivity. The scheme was rolled out across India, yet there was little to no evidence of farmers using these recommendations. The Indian government wanted to understand the specific nuances of the implementation and farmer adoption issues, which would then inform their decision when they reviewed the scheme in 2019.
Strengthening agricultural markets: Formation and Promotion of 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) scheme
The majority of farmers in India are smallholders, with the amount they produce often limited by the size of their land, lack of storage facilities, transportation to sell higher volumes at larger markets, and other challenges. Farmers’ collectives, or Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), can help farmers increase their profits – they can enable farmers to access more resources or improve their negotiating power to control prices, among other benefits. The government launched a scheme to create and promote 10,000 FPOs with a clear strategy and a committed budget of Rs 6865 crore. The Ministry of Agriculture needed to understand the barriers keeping FPOs from increasing farmers’ market trading, preventing farmers from working together to negotiate prices of agriculture products, and hindering their investments in infrastructure or technology, and providing other benefits to members.
Soil Health Cards
Prior to the project, there were 150 million soil health cards printed, but IDinsight’s early research showed that few understood the cards.
This scheme aimed to achieve an average membership size of 500 farmers in plain areas and 200 farmers in Hilly and North-Eastern regions in every FPO.1
IDinsight’s agriculture team supported NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Agriculture by collecting evidence to more deeply understand how to improve the effectiveness of the Soil Health Card scheme and improve market linkages for FPOs.
IDinsight conducted an in-depth diagnostic and process evaluation of the soil health card program to inform policy recommendations. The team then completed a multi-arm RCT to evaluate the effect of improved design and mobile phone-based calls and texts on farmer’s comprehension of recommendations.
IDinsight conducted a mixed-methods study that identified challenges faced by FPOs across three states and offered insight into how FPOs might improve their business activity.
The Agriculture Ministry adopted the revised design of the Soil Health Card. Ministry considered various policy and scheme design recommendations (like tenure for testing, scale of operation) while revising the Soil Health Card scheme. Additional results:
IDinsight’s team presented findings and recommendations from the study which were internally circulated within the Ministry of Agriculture. We also provided inputs on how to improve state-specific FPO guidelines and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs).
9 November 2020
16 July 2019
10 November 2020
We collaborate with government leaders to develop and roll out data-driven policy solutions aligned with their priorities and within their budgets.
15 January 2021