The Central Government has decided to include six new sectors including dairy farming under the ambit of works permissible under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

With due consideration to the local scenario that exists in the state, the revisions that have been made to the guidelines of the programme also includes the addition of works pertaining to the coir, fisheries and traditional industries, waste disposal, and the provision for hiring workers in a particular agricultural field every year.

Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, Rural Development and Dairy Development Minister K.C. Joseph said that the demands of the state were approved by Rural Development Ministry on Wednesday based on a report that was authored by Planning Commission member Mihir Shah.

Based on the revised guidelines, the scheme would incorporate the construction of basic facilities including sheds for livestock and poultry farming, and establishing biogas and vermicompost plants. The revisions would come into effect on April 1, the Minister said.

Mr. Joseph said that the decision to extend the MGNREGS to productive sectors would immensely boost the dairy sector in the State. “It has been ascertained that the recent hike in milk price has led to an increase of 25 per cent in milk production in the State. This showed that it was important to maintain a reasonable price in order to ensure the increase in productivity. However, despite the increase, the State continued to import about 8 lakh litres of milk a day. The incorporation of dairy farming into the MGNREGS would definitely promote the sector and thereby lead to a further increase in productivity,” he said.

In order to ensure an added source of income in the sector, the State Government would soon implement a proposal in which farmers with one or two cows that produce a total of 10 litres of milk a day would be eligible to 100 days’ wages a year under the MGNREGS. “Considering that the daily wage that is currently being provided in the State is Rs. 150, a household would be able to receive an income of Rs. 15,000 every year through this scheme. The scheme would prove effective in attracting younger generations to the sector,” he said.

He said that the State Government aimed to attain self-sufficiency in the milk production within the duration of the 12th Five Year Plan that would commence on April 1.

Mr. Joseph added that the agricultural sector in the State would also flourish by the revisions brought about in the scheme. “Contrary to the scenario that exists, the revision would enable works to be conducted on the same agricultural fields for more than one year.

This would benefit small and marginal farmers who could hire workers for their fields. The wages of these workers would paid by the Government,” he elaborated.

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