Livelihoods News

NEW DELHI: Farmers across the country are entitled to get Rs 1,080 a quintal (100kg) as minimum support price for paddy. But surprisingly, a team from the Centre that visited Bihar and Uttar Pradesh last week found that the Food Corporation of India  (FCI) was paying nearly 30% less. With little procurement taking place in these states, farmers have been left with no option but to go for distress sale. The result: In procurement centres such as Raia in Allahabad, farmers were being paid Rs 750-800 a quintal by FCI. In neighbouring Sultanpur's Ramganj, the rate paid for paddy was marginally better, at Rs 775-825 a quintal.

Over the next five years, the Forest Department will create fodder resources inside forest areas to improve wildlife habitats and mitigate human-animal conflict. As the department pays a huge sum of money as compensation for damage caused to the agricultural crops by wild animals, especially elephants straying into fields, and also for the loss of life and injury to human beings in attacks by animals, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests came up with the proposal to raise green fodder bank inside the reserve forest areas to prevent the straying of animals into human habitats. Accepting the proposal, the government has sanctioned Rs.20.87 crore for five years, including Rs.3.45 crore for 2011-12. Besides, the department plans to construct about 100 percolation ponds and 100 check dams in the next five years to satiate the thirst of the wild animals during summer. Silvicultural operations will be taken up on about 100 places. In Coimbatore circle, where the human-animal conflict is more pronounced, the Forest Department will establish ten irrigated fodder plots every year. (The Hindu- Chennai, January 25, 2012)

Central Delhi, comprising largely of Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal's parliamentary constituency Chandni Chowk, has been included in the list of 419 special focus districts (SFDs) for 2012-13 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Last year the number was 389. The Ministry describes these 419 districts as being “characterised by marginalisation and backwardness and yet to be on a par with other districts” on school education parameters. Central Delhi, with a substantial Muslim population, has been included in the SFDs for a low retention rate in schools — below 60 per cent. 

The second “National Convention on Children's Right to Food” concluded here on Sunday with a call to link anti-malnutrition strategies to inflationary indices. The three-day convention in which about 1,000 delegates from 21 States participated, adopted a 25-point “charter” on combating malnutrition. ,Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), stressed on focusing on the disadvantaged sections in the fight against malnutrition. Blaming the Central and State governments for rampant malnutrition across the country, Dr. Sinha called for a decentralized approach to counter malnutrition. “There should be better coordination between the two and the ultimate responsibility to answer for child deaths should be fixed with either on of them,” Vibhanshu Joshi, chairperson of the Madhya Pradesh commission for the protection of child rights said.

The Finance Ministry  has launched a concessional loan scheme for farmers to prevent distress sale of agricultural produce.  Farmers who park their produce at warehouses will be able to avail short-term post harvest loan at 7% as against the prevailing rate of 11%-12%. Farmers making timely payment of the loans will further enjoy 3% interest subvention, bringing the real interest rate to 4%, according to the finance ministry directive.  This will benefit close to 100 million marginal and small farmers with kisan credit cards. "Now, a farmer will be able to get two crop loans in a year at a concessional rate," said a senior official with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which will implement the scheme.

Qatar has proposed preparing a unified format of employment contract for foreign domestic helps across the six Gulf  nations, that heavily import workers from foreign countries like India.  The proposal was among the six major recommendations Qatar made at a recent meeting in Manama of the undersecretaries from the ministries of labour of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, a local media report said.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012. MAY THIS YEAR BRING PROSPERITY TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY

The finance ministry will treat a bank representative offering basic services invillages using a Net-enabled laptop as a branch, widening the reach of the government's financial inclusion plan and doing away with the need to spend on infrastructure. The ministry directive comes at a time when banks have raised questions about the viability of setting up brick-and-mortar branches in rural areas. At present, only about 5% of India's 6 lakh villages have bank branches.

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors  approved a US$130 million credit to finance the Government of India’s (GOI) efforts to empower rural communities in the growth-deficient North East (NE) region to improve their livelihood opportunities. The North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) seeks to support the rural poor, especially women, unemployed youth and the severely disadvantaged, in four North Eastern states to improve their standard of living by establishing sustainable community institutions and enhancing their livelihoods.

Rural Development Minister, Jairam Ramesh has appealed to the Prime Minister to create a new, separate category for MGNREGA under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. This comes in the midst of an on-going debate arguing for the wages under MGNREGA be brought at par with minimum wages in the states, following a judgment made by the Karnataka High Court to this effect. The Centre had decided to move a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the judgment. However, Mr. Ramesh opined that creating a category for the rural employment scheme and a mechanism for determining wage rates under the scheme would resolve the issue.

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