The new guidelines to exclude the farm sector from the purview of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) would have a negative impact on the scope for employment generation, especially as the sector stood third in the State in total employment generation in the farm sector in the last fiscal, after Thiruvanathapuram and Alappuzha, said M. Santhosh, MGNREGS joint co-ordinator.
Talking to The Hindu on Saturday, he said it provided employment to 1,19,048 families at an estimated expenditure of Rs.130.75 crore.
The agriculture sector accounted for the major share of employment generation.
The other sectors were less prominent owing to the special geographical and economic factors in the district. Unlike the other two districts, forests formed a large area and the prominent sector was agriculture, he said.
The district unit had already submitted watershed schemes for nominal and medium farmers in the 50 grama panchayats and as per the new guidelines, it may not be possible to implement the scheme.
The average number of working days for each family under the MGNREGS was 63.8.
The total number of working days for women was 58.51 lakhs.
A major feature of the scheme in the district was large employment generation for women in the farm sector. In the district, except in plantations, women employment in the farm sector was negligible.
A large number of homemakers joined employment in the farm sector — making a major change towards empowerment of women.
The continuance of the farm sector under the MGNREGS would have enabled it to make major strides in production.
Farmers with below 5 acres of land could utilise the services under the scheme before the new guidelines were issued by the Union government.
The Adimaly grama panchayat topped the list of highest employment under the scheme, at an expenditure of Rs 786.76 lakh followed by the Vathikudy grama panchayat.
In these two grama panchayats, agriculture remained a major employment generator.
Mr. Santhosh said in the newly created Edamalakkudy tribal grama panchayat, all 621 families who had requested for work under the scheme were given employment.
He said the farm sector could have been made a model in employment generation in this panchayat had it remained under the MGNREGS.