Wednesday 24 October 2012

Rural Employment in Uttarakhand: MNREGA benefits Extended to farmers

Written by Anil Singh

Rural employment in Uttarakhand can get a new boost, if the latest decision of Uttarakhand Government regarding MNREGA is implemented properly.

In a bid to improve the condition of small and marginal farmers in Uttarakhand; the state government has decided to give the farmers* the benefits of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) and increase the monetary relief from Rs 120 per day to Rs 200 per day. The proposal in this regard has been sent to the Union Government.

The move according to Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat, has been taken keeping in view the presence of small and marginal farmers in the state, who normally have poor economic condition.

If the decision is implemented, the Uttarakhand farmers can till and sow their own fields and the work is seen as "employment under MNREGA". And they will be paid a daily wage of Rs 200 for that work.

The Government hopes that the step will keep a tab on the declining productivity in the state.

Agriculture is a neglected sector in Uttarakhand:

Agriculture in Uttarakhand is a neglected sector. The reasons for it are: Migration, low fertility, lack for proper farming skills, traditinal agriculture etc.

There are some intangible factors at play as well. One is the money order economy -- where people have started living exclusively on the money they receive from the family member employed outside the state. Courtesy this trend, youth in the state has stopped seeing agriculture as a productive activity. The modern day influences like Satellite TV, mobiles have also contributed to the decline of the status of agriculture in the state. To elaborate, you can't make a youth sell fresh vegetables at a weekly market, and get Rs 250 as a reward for that effort; when he/she is spending Rs 500 a month on mobile top-ups and movie rentals**.


In Uttarakhand the percentage of barren land is greater than that of the fertile land. About 7 lakh hectares is used for farming in Uttarakhand, while 8 lakh hectares is barren. The percentage of barren land is increasing fast. In the last two two three years, 3 lakh hectares has become barren in the hill areas.

* Rural unemployed -- who normally suffer form Structural, Disguised and Seasonal unemployment.
** The situation is not that simple and can't be generalised that easily. But the idea here is to brainstorm for the possible factors. And on close look these sociological factors, seem to play the role.

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