The First Meeting of Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on coordination between MGNREGA and Agriculture was held at NITI Aayog today. The Convener of the Sub-Group Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh participated in the meeting in person. Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Nitish Kumar and Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani joined in the deliberations through video conferencing. Shri N. Chandra Babu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Ms Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal sent their suggestions in writing to the Convener of the sub-group. Member (Agriculture), NITI Aayog Prof. Ramesh Chand, Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog; Secretary, Rural Development; Chief Executive Officer, NRAA, Senior Officers of NITI Aayog, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Agriculture and State Government of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh attended the delibeartions.
At the outset, all the Chief Ministers welcomed the decision taken by the Prime Minister to constitute the Sub-Group for suggesting ways and means about use of employment under MGNREGS for improving agriculture and reducing cost. They appreciated the role of NITI Aayog in convening the meeting at an early date. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh suggested use of MGNREGA funds in supplementing labour costs in agriculture and fencing of farm land to protect it from wild animals, etc.
Five critical areas in which MGNREGA could positively help came to the fore in the meeting. These include – those related to reducing the cost of cultivation, enhancing the production through efficient use of water or other inputs, providing remunerative price to farmers by incentivising aggregation and market infrastructure, rehabilitation of agricultural land and assets after natural hazards or re-plantation using MGNREGA fund and bringing diversification in agriculture to help occupational diversification and maximising profit. Besides, incentivizing farm fencing to protect the farmer fields from wild animals was also suggested.
It was unanimously decided that all these issues require larger deliberations and wide range discussions with all the stakeholders. 5 regional meetings/workshops would be organized one each at Patna, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Guwahati and New Delhi to discuss with experts, farmers and farmer’s representatives and other stakeholders along with State Governments. The Sub-Group reiterated that while working for the coordination, we must ensure the rights of the labourers and maintain the “asset creation’’ spirit of MGNREGA. NITI Aayog, in consultation with Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Agriculture and State Governments will finalise the regional meetings. These regional meetings will be completed before 15th of August, 2018. The next meeting of the Sub-Group will be held on 31st August.
In the 4th Meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister on June 17th, 2018 at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi, a major decision was taken for policy coordination between the agriculture sector and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) particularly in pre-sowing and post-harvest activities at the farmers’ fields. The Prime Minister constituted Sub Group consisting of Chief Ministers of 7 States viz. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Sikkim and Member, NITI Aayog with the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh as the convener of the Sub-Group.