WB seeks reforms in agriculture research

agriculture research
agriculture research

ISLAMABAD, July 18: A new World Bank study has suggested fundamental institutional reforms in the national agricultural research system to make it more efficient and effective.

With efforts underway to develop provincial agricultural research institutions, the role of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) needs to be adjusted to exploit their comparative advantage of being a federal institution able to facilitate federal funding, intra-provincial knowledge, and capacity building.

With the shift in primary activities from federal to provincial levels and from policy coordination to agricultural research, there is a need to reflect these activities in human resource and performance incentives.

These reforms will require additional spending in agricultural research and development, whether for supporting agricultural research in provincial research centres or capacity building of science staff, with the exact composition of the additional spending depending on the nature of the institutional reforms, according to the report.

As part of the reforms, a stocktaking of the current agricultural research would need to include a detailed institutional audit that examines the system as a whole and to clearly delineate the roles, functions and mandates of the public federal and provincial bodies that govern and conduct agricultural research.

This stocktaking would also need to account for the current roles of private research and development, including those of domestic and multinational agribusinesses.

It should then lead to a strategic roadmap for overhauling the national agricultural research system, with particular emphasis on future budgets, human resources, and capacity building.

In keeping with the spirit of the 18th amendment, this strategic planning would need to have the input and buy-in of provincial and local government institutions and should not be left to just the PARC and the NARC, suggests the report.

The report observed that the current agricultural research system labours under severe technical capacity constraints. Public investment in agricultural research has been on the decline.

In 2009, it stood at about 0.21pc of agricultural GDP and ranked at the bottom of agricultural research and development spending as a share of agricultural GDP in the region.

With the research agenda moving down, agricultural research can potentially have a greater focus on the needs of local farmers and environmental conditions, though

challenges of coordination, duplication, and cost-effectiveness could arise, notes the report.

The report says that agriculture remains a socio-economically and politically important sector in Pakistan, even as its share in the overall economy continues to fall.

Sluggish growth in productivity has constrained farm income growth, limiting its potential for reducing poverty.

There remains, however, substantial scope for accelerating broad-based agricultural growth to boost returns, which requires stimulating productivity growth through technology and innovations, better water use management, and the right trade policies.In the area of agricultural trade, the report says improving agricultural trade will require removing discretionary instruments, like the statutory regulatory orders and simplifying the trade regime. Courtesy DAWN

Published in ZaraiMedia.com

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