THE SUB-GROUP of Chief Ministers on Agriculture and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is set to hold its first meeting on Wednesday to chalk out policies towards meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated goal of “doubling farmers’ income by 2022”.
With an eye on the elections next year, the Union government has proposed to expand the scope of the rural employment guarantee act so as to “align works under MGNREGA fully to the requirements of achieving the goal of higher farmer’s income”.
Under the demand-driven MGNREGA, every rural household is eligible to get 100 days of wage employment. The scheme was mainly designed to provide work to rural labour during lean agricultural season or in times of rural distress.
According to sources, the sub-group would now look at ways to dovetail MGNREGA works to aggressively meet its doubling of farm income agenda. “This would mark a shift from concentrating merely on rural landless labour to focusing more on small and marginal farmers who are dependent on their farmland for their income,” said a source.
Currently, of the 260 permissible works under MGNREGA, 164 are related to agricultural and allied works such as creating irrigation channels, farm ponds, check dams, stone bunding, vermi-composting, building cattle/ poultry -sheds or post-harvest works such as grain threshing or creating storage yards. In 2017-18, of the total Rs 64,000 crore spent on MGNREGA by both the centre and state, more than half, that is Rs 39,000 crore, was spent on such works.