The government believes that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and its work in the areas of water management and crop enhancement would lead the country to a second Green Revolution. Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, Rita Sharma, said while inaugurating a conference on 'NREGA for Water Management' at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi.
"It may be a wild thought now. But the first Green Revolution came about as a result of very high water guzzling cropping systems from the irrigated regions of the country. But the NREGA holds the trigger for a second Green Revolution from the rain-fed areas, but using water conserving technologies and working with the smaller and poorer farmers while the first revolution came from the big farmers," Dr. Sharma said.
Explaining the role and scope of NREGA in water management, Dr. Sharma said the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) technique, being popularized by NREGA works, helps in crops enhancement while cutting the usage of water by one-third.
Sharma said the SRI technique is being used in the cultivation of wheat and other crops as well by the farmers themselves. And the significant productivity increases could be stimulated NREGA on the holdings of small and poor farmers and leading to another food revolution.
The Government provides highest priority to water conservation in the choice of works under NREGA and the nature of works undertaken is such that it leads to creation of 'green jobs', Sharma said
Dr. Sharma said the expenditure on the NREGA is estimated to go up to Rs. 50,000 crore in 2009-10, giving employment to 5.5 crore rural people out of which 52 per cent are women. She said the average wage rate would also increase from the present Rs. 84 per day in the previous financial year to Rs. 89 in the current financial year.