Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Policy space opens through MNREGA

 Suman Sahai

Jairam Ramesh seems to have (in)advertently opened up a policy space with his comment on MNREGA “ Aap kitna gaddha khodo ge?” Here is an opportunity for people working  on NRM, agriculture and related fields, to intervene in changing policy and make suggestions for what MNREGA funded manpower can be used for , particularly in rainfed areas . Will be a good idea to come up with a list of suggested interventions and send it off to J Ramesh .

We should offer suggestions that definitely include the skill building of rural (young) people and the creation of substantial assets in rural areas. The No- Brainer here is natural resource conservation , especially water. Another is soil conservation….again in its most comprehensive sense. This could involve technology and a ‘barefoot’ type ITI training to create rural engineers who can go from identifying the problems of a terrain, conserving its moisture…etc,   to building up the soil health in its diverse pockets.

One thing I encounter in the fields is the limitation of  programs like the IWMP with its snarls of red tape and pre-set conditions. People tend to set silly do-able targets because of these limitations and the end product becomes unsatisfactory. Could we for instance, propose an allocation for a watershed to develop it comprehensively?  Starting from the water conservation to an agriculture  mix with high value crops that can be cultivated there , value chain building of the produce and its marketing. This should make the watershed an attractive package at several levels and people can be trained along its axis, acquiring different types of skills that will have applications beyond the watershed. One way of retaining young people in agriculture and rural livelihoods is to make them more contemporary and skilled and linked more firmly to the market.


1 comment:

  1. It's good that there is already a policy that supports this case.