Rejecting Agriculture Ministry’s claim that MNREGA operations have affected availability of labourers for farm operations, Rural Development Ministry on Thursday said the scheme had no adverse impact on agriculture sector.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, in a written reply in Lok Sabha said, “MNREGA has enhanced the employment opportunities in agriculture and related activities and has not substituted them.”

Citing National Sample Survey Organisation data, which reveals that majority of MNREGA workers are impoverished small and marginal farmers, Mr Ramesh said, “Permissible works under MNREGA have been expanded to include agriculture and its related activities.”

This will enhance productivity in the agriculture sector, he said.

The Minister said a few studies commissioned by the Rural Development Ministry on the impact of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme have shown that it led to improvement in rural infrastructure.

“Increase in agriculture wages and enhanced bargaining power of rural poor, reduction in soil erosion and enhancement in soil organic matter, improvement in ground water table and agricultural productivity and cropping intensity” are among some of the major findings of such studies, he said.

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