Improving India's Soil Health Card Scheme

A farmer in Meerut, India tests different iterations of the Soil Health Card.

A farmer in Meerut, India tests different iterations of the Soil Health Card.

Client: Multiple (NITI Aayog, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, other government departments)
Dates of service:
IDinsight service:
Process Evaluation
IDinsight contacts:
Divya Nair, Rupika Singh
Additional Documents: Soil Health Card Policy Brief, Addressing Fertiliser Imbalance in India
Learn more about: AMAL Unit
Lear more about the AMAL Unit’s initiatives:
Capacity Building | Data-on-Demand | Financial Inclusion | Health & Nutrition | Measurement | Sanitation

The Problem

The Indian government’s central policymaking unit, NITI Aayog, seeks to transform the country’s 100 poorest districts, which consistently lag on health, education, and economic indicators. The AMAL (Action-focused Measurement And Learning) Unit, set up by IDinsight, is supporting NITI Aayog on the 'Transform Aspirational Districts’ initiative. The initiative aims to significantly improve socioeconomic outcomes in 100+ of India’s poorest districts, home to approximately 250 million people. The thrust of the initiative is to promote an outcomes-based management approach among states and districts, thereby promoting a federal governance structure that fosters competition amongst public entities to chase outcomes while encouraging cooperation to share learnings and best practices.

An initiative of this partnership is working on NITI Aayog’s work on the nation-wide Soil Health Card Scheme.

The Soil Health Card Scheme addresses the rampant fertilizer misapplication in India by providing application recommendations to farmers based on the specific nutrient deficiencies in their soil. This scheme covered 120 million farm holdings in the country. However, the scheme’s impact has been constrained by procedural implementation issues and inadequate farmer adoption.

The Indian Government aims to understand the specific nuances of the procedural and farmer adoption issues. This will inform the scheme review decisions scheduled in 2019.

Evidence Needs

IDinsight Service

IDinsight conducted an in-depth diagnostic and process evaluation of the soil health card program to collect evidence for policy recommendations. The team is now working on informing the card redesign using behavioral insights.


The team shared its findings and recommendations with NITI Aayog and Ministry of Agriculture. Drawing from these lessons, IDinsight has been asked to give inputs on the card redesign.

Project is ongoing.