Soil-test van unused in Surunga due to lack of techniciansSix months ago, the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives in Province-1 had invested Rs 7.6 million for the mobile testing laboratory and handed it over to the Soil and Fertilizer Testing Laboratory in Surunga.
A soil-test mobile van, a vehicle with technical machinery to test soil, is lying unused due to a lack of skilled technical manpower in Surunga, Jhapa.
Six months ago, the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives in Province-1 had invested Rs 7.6 million for the mobile testing laboratory and handed it over to the Soil and Fertilizer Testing Laboratory in Surunga.
The mobile van has been parked in the laboratory premises for the last six months, unused till date. Hari Bahadur Bhujel, chief at the lab, said that they cannot operate the van due to the lack of technical manpower. “If we could have operated the van, we could test a soil sample in the farmer’s doorstep,” said Bhujel.
According to the laboratory, the mobile testing laboratory will help calculate how nutritious a particular sample of soil is, but to use the facility, at least five people, including a driver, are needed. Bhujel said, “We have already notified the ministry about the problem. We don’t know how to operate the machine.”
Surunga’s laboratory’s working area is Panchthar, Ilam and Jhapa districts. Nabaraj Bhattarai, a local farmer of Kachankawal in Jhapa, said that soil testing is essential for farmers to break down the quality and composition of the soil. He said, “We could not visit the lab only for testing the soil as the office is situated at quite a distance. If the mobile van could be operated, we would be able to get the soil tested for nutrient deficiencies and fertiliser requirements at our doorsteps.”
Officials at the laboratory said that the soil testing will help farmers increase their farm yields.
Currently, because farmers don’t visit the Soil and Fertilizer Testing Laboratory in Surunga to test their soil samples, the laboratory has been organising soil testing camps in various parts of Jhapa, Ilam, and Panchthar on a regular basis.
Anju Budhathoki, an officer of the laboratory, said, “This van has all of the facilities including AC and a generator with modern equipment to conduct soil tests.” It can even test levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and obtain their results immediately from the Soil Test Mobile Van, she said.