Can information help reduce imbalanced application of fertilisers in India: Experimental evidence from Bihar

Policy brief Firms and Farms

  • Imbalanced use of fertilisers is a serious problem in India, and in Bihar, the use of chemical fertiliser is much higher relative to the rest of India. The Government of India launched the flagship Soil Health Card (SHC) programme in 2015, in which, farmers receive SHCs with recommendations on the application of different fertilisers.
  • This brief provides empirical evidence on whether the introduction of the SHC programme is able to reduce imbalanced use of chemical fertilisers in Bihar.
  • The findings suggest there is no evidence of any impact of SHC on fertiliser use in Bihar. A lack of understanding and confidence of the SHC’s recommendations and other factors such as credit constraints, were possible explanations for having no impact.
  • To improve the effectiveness of the SHC, the following modifications in its implementation are needed: different ways to motivate farmers over the soil test results; strengthening the follow-up visits by trained extension workers; and an offer to cover potential downside risk from changing fertiliser use.
  • The researchers recommend generating more evidence to test different ways in making the SHC effective, which will help in promoting