8-year thrust on rural employment

Ranchi, May 31: Starting 2013, the state government will embark on a eight-year mission to improve agricultural productivity and develop skills of rural people, mostly tribals, so that they get alternate sources of employment round the year under an ambitious Rs 650-crore scheme.

The project christened Jharkhand Tribal Empowerment & Livelihood Project, to be implemented in 14 districts, will be jointly sponsored by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the state government. While the UN agency will pitch in with about Rs 250 crore, the remaining Rs 400 crore will be coughed up by the state.

Speaking to The Telegraph, state welfare secretary A.P. Singh said they were in the process of finalising the nitty-gritty of the project that will be implemented by the Jharkhand Tribal Development Society.

β€œThe project will be executed in 30 blocks of 14 districts, covering 166 panchayats and over a thousand villages. The development strategy will be two-pronged. First, promotion of basic agriculture with villagers being trained to increase farm productivity through modern methods and second, skill development of rural folks to provide them with alternate sources of income,” Singh said.

The 14 districts, covered under Tribal Sub Plan, are Ranchi, Khunti, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan, Gumla, Simdega, Lohardaga, Latehar, Dumka, Godda, Pakur, Sahebganj and Jamtara, where Left Wing Extremism (LWE) has spread its wings.

In fact, government agencies have failed to reach the downtrodden in a few pockets.

An IFAD team has been touring the state for the last couple of months and holding issue-based discussions with non-government organisations, government agencies et al entrusted with the task of rural development.

Tomorrow, chief secretary S.K. Choudhary will hold a meeting in the state secretariat with IFAD officials to finalise the tribal area development models. All tasks are to be carried out through gram sabhas.

IFAD is working on another project, Jharkhand Tribal Development Programme, in the state since 2003. It was implemented in five districts, namely Ranchi, Khunti, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan. The project will end in this financial year.

Usually, the main agriculture season involving paddy cultivation continues from June-July to November-December. For the rest of the six-seven months, the villagers, mainly tribals, have no work except cultivation of lac and vegetables, which do not yield much.


Source: The Telegraph