The main grouse of farmers against Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the job guarantee scheme, is that it made farming unviable by making labour unaffordable.

Several thousands of small farmers have reportedly shunned land, unable to find labour.

The Andhra Pradesh Government says this is no longer a problem for farmers. A Government-supported SRI (System of Rice Intensification) cultivation method could help farmers tackle the labour problem effectively.

“There is no point in blaming a good scheme that helped crores of daily wage labourers get assured work throughout the year,” Mr V Nagi Reddy, Principal Secretary (Agriculture) of Andhra Pradesh, says. “We have finalised a support system for small farmers to help face labour and technological shortages. We are going to set up 100 SRI cultivation support systems across the State,” he said.

“These units would be up and running by rabi.

We will give a subsidy in the range of 30-50 per cent to entrepreneurs who show interest to join the programme. Each unit, which would cost Rs 1 crore, would cater to 100-200 farmers,” he told Business Line on the sidelines of a global summit on “Green Revolution II” organised by ASSOCHAM here on Wednesday.

SRI cultivation would reduce water consumption by 30 per cent and increase productivity by 20 per cent.

“We request industries bodies such as ASSOCHAM to help us rope in entrepreneurs,” he said.

(This article was published on June 15, 2011)
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