Jairam Ramesh launches women empowerment scheme in Kerala

February 24th, 2012 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuzhoor (Kerala), Feb 24 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Friday launched the “Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana” (MKSP) from Kerala’s Thrissur district, and said the state’s demand for fixing working hours under the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. deserves careful consideration.

Launching MKSP from the Kuzhoor gram panchayat in Thrissur district, Ramesh said the role of women in agriculture was extremely important.

He said over 80 percent of rural women in Kerala were engaged in agriculture.

“The project we are launching is significant for the economic status of women,” he said and added that it will be a national programme.

Ramesh said steps being taken under the MKSP will lead to improved paddy cultivation, better use of soil and water and increased emphasis on organic farming.

“In three years, we expect to see the results reflected in economic status of women.”

He said the Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana projects in Kerala will have two components, each having an investment of Rs.80 crore.

The MKSP is aimed at empowering women in agriculture by enabling them to gain more access over production resources, support systems and inputs, and services provided by the government and other agencies.

It is also aimed at sustaining agriculture-based livelihoods of rural women.

Ramesh referred to the demand of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was also present at the function, for fixing working hours of MGNREGS between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and said the suggestion appeared to be reasonable.

He said over 90 percent of labour in the MGNREGS were women and the chief minister’s request “appears to be a reasonable one”.

He said women had committments towards the family and the chief minister’s suggestion deserved careful consideration.

“We will certainly look into it. It is not proper for me to make an announcement,” the minister said while referring to an impending assembly by-election in the state.

The minister said the issue of minimum wages under the MGNREGS was also being examined by his ministry.

He said that the ambit of works under the MGNREGS will be expanded from April 1.

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