Livelihoods News

About 1,000 primary weavers cooperative societies and four lakh handloom weavers in Tamil Nadu are likely to benefit from the new Centrally-sponsored scheme launched in association with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The move will directly impact the Indian handloom sector, the second largest employer in the country after agriculture. According to Lalitha Venkatesan, Chief General Manager, NABARD, Chennai region, the “Revival, Reform and Restructuring Package for Handloom Sector” will be implemented from the current financial year with a total outlay of Rs.3,884 crore.  The scheme was mooted by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his 2011-12 Budget speech. To be implemented through NABARD, it is likely to benefit 15,000 cooperative societies and three lakh weavers across the country.

Disappointed with lacklustre prices, farmers  could scale back cotton  acreage by 10% this year. They could shift to more profitable crops like guar  and groundnut, say agriculture department officials in five major cotton-growing states.  Cotton forms a third of India's farm Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the textiles industry  is the country's largest employer in the manufacturing sector. India is the world's second largest producer, exporter and consumer of cotton.  "Cotton sowing will fall this year by 10% across India as farmers have not got higher returns when compared to the previous year," said Cotton Association of India president Dhiren N Sheth.  He said a stable export policy could help keep acreage stable and provide remunerative prices to farmers.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh released here a report, authored by Planning Commission member Mihir Shah, suggesting revision of the guidelines to strengthen the job entitlement programme that has run into rough weather of late. The new avatar of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, coming into existence on April 1, will allow farmers who qualify for support under MGNREGS to hire hands for eight man-days per acre for transplantation and for another four man-days at two intervals for weeding. Through this provision the Centre seeks to solve the problem of small and marginal farmers who not only find it difficult to get hands but also pay higher wages demanded by workers. They are unable to match the wages paid under MGNREGS. Now the government will pay for those working on agricultural land owned by eligible farmers.  

The Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for 2012-13 may touch Rs 5.2 lakh crore, with an increase of more than 18 per cent over the current fiscal year.This includes both Central assistance to the States and allocation to various Central Ministries. According to a source, there is also a move to classify the increase in allocation under three categories.“Ministries with very high priority flagship programs will get more. In fact, you may see the reflection of the political manifesto (in the allocations),” the source added. The GBS and the allocation will be announced in the General Budget to be tabled on March 16.With the increase in GBS, the Government may be hoping to build the impression of a turnaround in the economy. Increasing expenditure will also build confidence among investors which, in turn, will facilitate growth, the source said. He added that in terms of increase in allocation, the Ministries could be divided into three categories.

The Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs has approved the National Dairy Development Board's ambitious National Dairy Plan for the 12th Five-Year Plan starting this year. The government will launch this countrywide plan with an outlay of Rs 1,760 crore. International Development Association will provide Rs 1,584 crore towards the project and the rest Rs 176 crore will come from the Union government. "The cabinet panel has given its clearance to the long-awaited project. However, due to the election code of conduct in various states, a formal announcement has not been made," says an official in the know of things. The project aims at boosting milk production using scientific breeding and feeding programs covering about 2.7 million milch animals in 40,000 villages. It will also focus on modernizing village-level infrastructure for milk collection and bulking such as milk cans, bulk milk coolers for a cluster of villages, associated weighing and testing equipment and related IT equipment.

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.