Soil Resources Development Institute

Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI) Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), an attached department to Ministry of Agriculture originated in 1961 as the East Wing Directorate of the Soil Survey Project of Pakistan under Ministry of Agriculture and Works of the then Government of Pakistan with the assistance of FAO/UNDP. The aim of the organisation was to make a quick inventory of the soil and land resources of the country in order to assess their potentials for agriculture and other uses. This would provide the sound database needed by the planners and decision makers to chalk out development plans for rational utilization of the land resources especially in terms of agriculture: Extension; Irrigation and drainage; Soil conservation and reclamation; and Soil fertility investigation and identification of problems.

During the period from 1963 to 1975 Reconnaissance Soil Survey (RSS) of the entire country was completed except mangrove forest to the south-west (the Sundarban) and reserve forest of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In 1969 the then Government of Pakistan set up central Soil Resource Institute to carry out comprehensive soil research with its two regional offices located one at Dhaka and other at Lahore.

After emergence of Bangladesh, the then east wing office of the Central Soil Resource Institute started functioning as Department of Soil Survey under Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

With felt necessity of more intensive land use and to disseminate soil information in a more useful way for the different beneficiary agencies engaged in more intensive land use, Soil Survey Interpretation Scheme and Expanded Soil Survey Programme were launched in 1974 and 1976 respectively.

To co-ordinate, cooperate and exchange information on soil related matters with concerned national and international bodies/organisations, Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) came into existence in 1982-83. This institute absorbed the Department of Soil Survey, Soil Survey interpretation Scheme and Expanded Soil Survey Programme in 1983 and Technical Officers (Director to Scientific Officers) were brought under Bangladesh Civil Service (Agriculture) and opened 4 Regional Offices at divisional level and 14 District Offices at older district level.

In 1986 `Strengthening of Soil Resource Development Institute' project was launched in order to strengthen the technical facilities of SRDI and to open remaining six new (older district based) offices, Particularly to reinforce SRDI and aimed at preparing Upazila Nirdeshika of 460 Upazilas of the country.

SRDI launched another project entitled `Soil Testing, Management and Development of SRDI' with Danish assistance since 1992. Analytical Services Division (ASD) of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) along with its four Regional Laboratories at Comilla, Joydevpur, Khulna and Rajshahi was merged with SRDI in 1993. SRDI opened two research centers, 'Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Center (SCWMC)', at Bandarban and 'Salinity Management and Research Center (SMRC) at Batiaghata during 1994-95.

After completion of `Soil Testing, Management and Development of SRDI' project another DANIDA support project titled as `Soil Resources Management and Analytical Services' has been launched as a consolidation of `Soil Testing, Management and Development of SRDI' Project from March 2001.

Another project titled as `Establishment of Soil Testing Laboratories' stared functioning from June 1999 and ended in 2007. The main objective of the project was to increase the analytical capability of SRDI and thus help increase crop production by sustaining productivity of the land for the self sufficiency of food.

The vision of SRDI is to ensure judicious and profitable use of scarce land and soil resources of the country and to arrest or keep environmental pollution related to agro-chemicals at minimum or zero level. The missions of SRDI are to- inventory soil and land resources of the country, classify them according to their potentiality, generate a detail database on soil, land, water and agro-climate, prepare guideline for the best uses of the natural resources, identify and manage problem soils and finally ensure active role in sustainable increase of crop production.

The functions of SRDI are (as per gazette notification by the government)-

Reconnaissance soil survey of the whole country on the basis of aerial photo interpretation and field and laboratory investigation of soils;

Detailed/Semi-detailed soil surveys of development project areas and research farms for various beneficiary agencies;

Soil surveys to evaluate irrigation command areas and cropping potentials;

Soil surveys for locating areas of problem soils (e.g. toxic, saline, alkaline or peat soils), soil degradation and erosion (in watershed region) for planning reclamation or watershed management;

Correlation of soils collected under various surveys;

Chemical analysis of soil, water and plant samples to verify and clarify the field observation;

Analysis of chemical and organic fertilizers to ensure the quality of fertilizers as backup for policy makers;

Physical and mineralogical and microbial analysis of soils of the country;

Interpretation of aerial photos, land sat imageries and topographic maps for soil and land use surveys;

Preparation of various maps and reports on the above-mentioned surveys for publication;

Services to the development agencies by providing basic data on soils, land capability and crop suitability for preparation of both short and long-term agricultural development plans;

Coordination with the beneficiary agencies at local, regional or national levels regarding planning and execution of land use development programmes;

Provision of simplified guides on soils and agricultural development possibilities for each Upazila for agricultural extension and research workers;

Provision of soil data for planning irrigation, drainage and reclamation projects;

Selection of suitable sites for specific research/ development activities;

Imparting in-service training to the newly recruited technical officers on soil survey, land use planning, cropping potential, etc. and refreshers training to keep the technical officers of the department apprised and acquainted with the up to date knowledge;

Training of agricultural extension and research workers of various levels on proper utilization of soil survey information. Imparting basic training on various aspects of soils to the students of the agricultural institutions.

Director (Grade II in National Pay Scale) is the chief executive of the institute. He is assisted by Chief Scientific Officers (CSOs) of the Divisions; Principal Scientific Officers (PSOs) of Head Quarter based Sections, Regional Offices and Regional Laboratories mainly in technical issues and Assistant Director (Admin.) mainly in administrative and financial issues for smooth functioning of the institute.

The institute has 4 Divisions namely Development Division, Survey Division, Technical Support Service Division and Soil Testing Division, 9 sections including Central Laboratory, 6 Regional Offices, 15 Regional Laboratories, 6 Fertilizer Testing Laboratories under district offices, 21 District Offices and 2 research centers. Besides these 12 Mobile Soil Testing Laboratories (MSTL) is also providing on farm soil testing facilities including balanced fertilizer recommendations to the farmers.

The present manpower of SRDI is (215 technical staff, 33 non-technical staff and 441 supporting staff).

Development division consisit of 6 (Six) Regional Offices at Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Barisal and 21 (Twenty one) District Offices at Dhaka, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Tangail, Faridpur, Comilla, Chittagong, Noakhali and Rangamati, Comilla, Rajshahi, Pabna, Bogra, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Khulna, Jessore and Kushtia, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Barisal and Patuakhali.

Functions development division are Land and soil resources inventory, land evaluation, classification of soil and land Soil Resources Utilization Guides. Provide advisory services to agricultural extension workers, farmers, researchers and other beneficiaries at Division, District, Upazila and Block level. Imparting training to farmers, extension agents and researchers on land and soil related issues.

There are six Fertilizer Testing Laboratories of which 5 are operating under district office and located at Rangpur, Jessore, Sylhet, Barisal and Chittagong and one Fertilizer Testing Laboratory at Dhaka is operating under Central Laboratory. Functions of these laboratories are to analyze fertilizer samples in order to assist the agricultural system to control adulteration of fertilizers.

Survey Division consisis of 3 (three) sections viz. Soil and Land Classification Survey Section, Soil Survey Interpretation Section and Soil Correlation Section at head quarter.

Soil Testing Division consists of 15 (fifteen) Regional Laboratories viz. Dhaka, Comilla, Rajshahi, Khulna, Chittagong, Noakhali, Sylhet, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Faridpur, Barisal, Jhinaidah, Kushtia, Bogra and Dinajpur.

There are 2 (two) research stations, one at Bandarban, viz. Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Center, for conducting research on hill agriculture, soil conservation, erosion and watershed management and another at Botiaghata, Khulna, viz. Salinity Management and Research Center, to conduct research on saline soil management in coastal region.

Mobile Soil Testing Laboratories (MSTL) are launched in Bangladesh by SRDI in 1996 with the objective of popularizing soil test based fertilizer application, building awareness for the benefits of balanced fertilizer use and advertising facilities for soil testing and fertilizer recommendation provided by SRDI through its static laboratories. At present 10 MSTL are operating soil testing and fertilizer recommendation activities at 112 Upazila and providing services to 5600 farmers annually.

Beside these there is a cell namely Upazila Nirdeshika Cell, which is responsible for editing and publication of ' Land and Soil Resources Utilization Guides' popularly known as Upazila Nirdeshika. Administration section consists of 3 branches viz. Administrative Branch, Accounts Branch and Store Branch.

Major achievement of SRDI are publication of Reconnaissance Soil Survey (RSS) report of the whole country except Sunderban and reserve forest of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in 34 volumes, 'Land and Soil Resource Utilization Guides' for every Upazila; creating huge database on land and soil resources; soil fertility database through collecting soil samples from 125,000 points and analyzing in the laboratory; providing tremendous service in ensuring quality fertilizers in the market through testing quality in the laboratories; launching On-line Fertiliser Recommendation Services; land use map in 1975, 1996 and 2004; soil salinity maps and report 1973, 2000 and 2010; and delineation of problem soils of Bangladesh. [Md Nazmul Hasan]