MGNREGA luring away labour from farm fields: study

MGNREGA luring away labour from farm fields: study

Besides creating labour shortage in the agriculture sector, cost of farm production increased by upto 20 per cent in Karnataka after implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Centre’s flagship programme aimed at alleviating poverty,revealed a new research study.

The study by Institute for Social and Economic Change Bangalore, stated that after implementation of the job scheme, in majority of villages shortage of labour in agriculture was observed during kharif sowing season of July, August and September. The scheme came into operation in February 2006.

"The majority of the villagers were of the view that after MGNREGA implementation, cost of production in agriculture has increased by 10 to 20 per cent because of scarcity of labour," said the study, titled 'Impact of NREGA on Wage Rate, Food Security and Rural Urban Migration in Karnataka (2011)."

Authors of the study, Pramod Kumar, professor and head, Agriculture Development and Rural Transformation Centre (ADRTC), and Dr I Maruthi of ADRTC of ISEC, said daily wages in the farm sector increased by 50 per cent after implementation of the scheme.

"Works taken up under MGNREGA should be planned in such a way that labour is strictly employed for the scheme after the sowing and harvesting seasons of rabi and kharif crops is over. This planning has to be done at the panchayat, block and district levels depending upon the cropping pattern of the respective regions," they said.

The researchers studied performance of the scheme in villages of Bidar, Bellary, Chamarajanagar, Chikmagalur and Dharwad districts with a sample of 254 households.

"A clear majority of households indicated the scheme has not been successful in raising their living standards or their consumption levels and the reasons were that the programme has not provided enough number of days of work to make a significant dent on the poverty level," it said.