During the fourth meeting of NITI Aayog’s Governing Council on 17 June 2018, the Hon'ble Prime Minister constituted a subgroup comprising Chief Ministers of seven States—Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Sikkim—and Member, NITI Aayog, for policy coordination between the agriculture sector and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). This was consequent to the discussions and concerns raised by Chief Ministers about the rising cost of production in agriculture.
The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh is the convener of the subgroup. The subgroup is serviced by NITI Aayog's Agriculture Vertical.
The first meeting of the subgroup was held on 12 July 2018. The Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh participated in the meeting in person. The Chief Ministers of Bihar and Gujarat joined via video conferencing. The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal sent their suggestions in writing to the convener of the subgroup.
During the meeting, five critical areas in which MGNREGA could positively work towards were suggested. These were:
Reducing the cost of cultivation;
Enhancing production through the efficient use of water or other inputs;
Providing remunerative price to farmers by incentivising aggregation and market infrastructure;
Rehabilitating agricultural land and assets after natural disasters; and
Re-planting using the MGNREGA fund and bringing diversification in agriculture.
Besides, incentivising farm-fencing to protect farmers' fields from wild animals was also suggested. All these issues were discussed in five regional workshops held at Patna, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Guwahati and New Delhi, with State Governments, experts, farmers and farmers’ representatives and other stakeholders.