Livelihoods News

Almost a year after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced a Rs 500-crore fund for women's Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the 2011-12 budget, the finance ministry may finally be able to get it functional.The launch of the fund, which was to be used to provide cheaper loans to woman, was delayed due to inter-ministerial wrangles with the rural development ministry raising some objections. 
The recently introduced priceless sheep and goat scheme of the State government has turned out to be a game-changer among poor landless women farmers. Though profit margins in agricultural enterprises tend to be small, the scheme has everything to make a profit by raising goats, particularly if costs are controlled, and returns from marketing are maximized. As per the scheme, a sum of Rs.12,500 is given to the targeted beneficiary, of them Rs.10000 will be used for buying 4 sheep and goats and Rs.2500 for maintenance and others. The beneficiaries should have no landholdings. They must be widow or destitute with one dependant. The village level committee consisting of the panchayat president and Village Administrative Officer identifies the beneficiary. 

The Department of Ayush is planning to expand the ongoing pilot projects

By 2022, over 700 million Indians of working age will be seeking to earn a livelihood. Of these, only 200 million would be graduates. The rest will be left with a question mark over their education qualifications and skills. Traditionally, skill development has been government-driven with different approaches adopted by industry and states. Skills training courses were perceived as being intended for those who could not make it in the formal system, and did not carry any aspirational value. The skills space was supply-side intervention, with very little connect to demand and a lack of focus on outcomes. The likelihood of a person who entered a skill institute getting a job or becoming an entrepreneur was not determinable.

The world's largest annual organic products event, BioFach 2012, began here with a sharp focus on India and its products. “Millions of small and marginal farmers practice organic farming by default. This is because they do farming in rain-fed areas and cannot afford modern agriculture that encompasses using fertilizers and pesticides,” said Mr Asit Tripathy, Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Commerce. Changes were happening in Indian agriculture with mechanization, corporatization and contract farming, but in the last 10 years, the Indian Government has woken up to the potential of organic farming, he said. Indian organic products exports currently are valued at $400 million and the target was to top $1 billion by 2015.

The Congress' flagship programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, is facing a big cut in its budgetary grant for the first time since its launch in 2006.The budgetary support for the current financial year was a tad lower at Rs. 40,000 crore but the progress of the MGNREGS has been so bad that the UPA government is now set to slash the allocation for the job scheme for the poor for the 2012-13 financial year by 10 to 20 per cent.It is just a question of reconciling perceptions on the extent of deduction to be made. The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission differ on the size of the cut, but all seem to be unanimous on allocating less for the MGNREGS given the government's adverse fiscal position.

There is very little that distinguishes the hamlet of Madri from the innumerable others that dot southern Rajasthan. This is a region where the Aravallis make their presence felt in gnarled hillocks, where water is scarce and where the land yields its harvests grudgingly. People here, including toddlers, know well the edge of hunger. So when Ranjani Ashok, 54, who runs the anganwadi in this village – perched on the border that separates Dungarpur and Banswara districts – serves her charges their small helping of ‘kichidi' (gruel of rice and lentil), it disappears in a trice. The children in Ranjani's anaganwadi are not picky eaters. Unlike well-fed kids from prosperous city neighbourhoods, these children eat pretty much whatever is served to them, unless they happen to have a fever.

A big revolution is on its way to change a small village. Umarpada, a tribal village in south Gujarat, is set to change its economy by turning to rose production by leaving behind their current livelihood of agricultural work at others' field.  Nearly 1,500 farm-workers have committed to join hands with Surat-based JJ Flora Cooperative Society to produce dutch (exported) roses and gerbera flowers with a view to ship branded roses to western markets including the US, Europe and Japan by next Valentine season. The cooperative society along with 50 tribal farmers has already started an initial production of dutch roses in 30 acres.

NEW DELHI: Experts have given thumbs down to big irrigation projects in Vidarbha, a view that may mark major shift in government's approach in tackling the crisis of vulnerable cotton farmers after the expiry of Prime Minister's special package for the region.  The Centre may now go for a scheme which would junk big irrigation dams in Vidarbha, and instead focus on harvesting rainwater to boost irrigation.  The National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) has dubbed the big and medium projects as "overdesigned", filled only up to 34% in 2008-09 and 41% in 2009-10. The negative feedback underlines some of the misdirected priorities of Rs 3750-crore PM's package for cotton farmers and Maharashtra government who funneled major chunk of funds for big and medium irrigation projects.  The expert view against the new irrigation projects seems to point to the need for change in approach.

 

The Indian leather industry is likely to face challenges in maintaining the existing growth level, said Aqeel Ahmed, Regional Chairman, Council for Leather Exports, Southern Region, here on Friday. Talking to journalists, Mr. Ahmed said that the Europe is the major market for Indian leather exports. At present there is a crisis in Europe owing to which the economy has slowed down. Germany is the only market which is doing better. However, there is an opportunity to increase the Indian leather industry's share in the global leather trade. The leather industry recorded an all time high growth of 27 per cent during the current fiscal up to November last year.

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