Has MGNREGA assets benefitted the beneficiaries? A reality check


NREGA assets : Farm Ponds

Farmponds built under MGNREGA has immensely benefitted agriculture and has become a strong alternate source of income for many beneficiaries. With fisheries department providing fish seeds and fish feed under convergence, fish cultivation is thriving in many parts of the Tamil Nadu .The ponds have also turned out to be a blessing for agriculture as it has led to significant rise in water table in agricultural lands.

John a farmer from Thottakadu panchayat

John a farmer from Thottakadu panchayat , Thanjavur , got his farm pond constructed under MGNREGA in 2013. He says that his life has improved tremendously after the construction of this pond in his 7 acre agriculture land. `` Water level has increased significantly in my farm land and fish farming has become a strong source of income for me’’. During his first seeding, John received a thousand fish seeds from the fisheries department and since then he has harvested five times. ``During each harvest I got around 500 kg fish and I have sold produce worth Rs 75000 per yield . I spent around Rs 25,000 on fish feed and maintenance and earn a profit of around Rs 50,000’’. John says that with the income he earned from the farm pond he could make meaningful contributions to his children’s education. `` I can even take a loan for my child’s education now as I am confident that I can repay it with the income I earn through fish farming’’

Ashokan Chinnayan, a migrant labourer

Ashokan Chinnayan, a migrant labourer from the same panchayat also testifies that fish farming has become a strong alternate source of income for him. `` I cultivate four varieties of fish. Although I did not make an enormous profit during my past two harvests as some of my fish perished, fish farming has become a consistent source of income for me. Nowadays I don’t migrate much to nearby cities in search of work. I focus more on ways to improve my fish farming’’

Balakumar, a farmer from Achampatti panchayat

Balakumar, a farmer from Achampatti panchayat, Budalur block is busy churning out plans to expand his fish farming as it has become a main source of income for him. `` This land is unproductive and I used to earn a meagre income from agriculture. But now with fish farming a great success, I am planning to focus more on it and is constructing one more pond here’’. Balakumar who has seeded his farm pond twice was able to lease out the produce for Rs50,000 during each harvest. He had received 500 fish seeds and 100 kg fish feed from the fisheries department.

Shivakumar, a farmer from Kottankudy panachayat

Shivakumar, a farmer from Kottankudy panachayat, Thalaynayar block, Nagapattinam also shares a similar story. `` My income from agriculture is meagre as this is a drought prone region. However, Fish cultivation has been a great success and during my both harvests I earned around Rs50,000 to Rs65,000’’says Shivakumar. He received 500 fish seeds and 100 kg fish feed from fisheries department

Chandira

Chandira, from the same panchayat is eagerly looking forward for her next harvest. She is able to do agriculture in her once acre land only during one season and is now relying on fish farming to make a living for the rest of the year. ``I have harvested twice and shared my first harvest with my relatives and friends. My second harvest was not that profitable as I did not have much knowledge about fish farming and unknowingly undertook a premature harvest. However I have seeded 1000 fish seeds now and is planning to harvest after six months. I am sure I will make good money this time’’.