New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has pulled up the government for allocating meagre budget of Rs 25,553 crore for agricultural research during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) saying the government has "failed to understand the urgency of timely infusion of capital in the system".
The Department of Agricultural Research and Education under the Agriculture Ministry had proposed Rs 57,887 crore allocation for 12th plan, while the Working Group of the Planning Commission had recommended Rs 55,000 crore.
But the gross budgetary support communicated to the Department is Rs 25,553 crore for the 2012-17 period, it said.
"The Committee do not appreciate the downsizing of allocation, if the communicated figure is taken on its face value, which is less than 1 percent of agriculture GDP," the Parliamentary Standing Committee, headed by Basudeb Acharia, said in the report on demands for grants for 2013-14 fiscal.
The proposed outlay of the Department has been reduced by about 44 percent for the 12th Plan and this will affect the ongoing research projects and slacken new initiatives, it said.
"It is a matter of deep concern that high-end research projects such as agro-diversity, genomics, nanotechnology, conservation agriculture, health foods, farm mechanisation etc may either have to be shelved or postponed indefinitely," the report said.
The panel further observed that both the Planning Commission and government "failed to understand the urgency of timely infusion of capital in the system so as to give an impetus for developing technologies for emerging challenges."
Emphasising agriculture research is second to none in the development process, the panel suggested the Department should draw the attention of the government and seek enhanced allocation for agri-research not only for this fiscal but for the entire plan period.
It said the government's allocation for agriculture research should be one per cent of the sector's GDP as several studies reveal that higher investment will help in substantial reduction in poverty by stimulating agri-growth and reducing food prices.
"In the Indian context, results have shown that about Rs 13.5 are returned for every rupee invested in agriculture research and development. Another study found that around 1/4 growth in wheat output and cotton, 1/5th in case of bajra and 13 percent in paddy and maize, were due to R&D work".
Sustainable development, climate change, bio-security, bio-safety are some of the upfront areas requiring detailed research, it added.
First Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 14:54