Allegations of fund leakages notwithstanding, the MGNREGA scheme has improved access to financial services for farmers and holds a great scope for further agricultural and economic growth of the country, a World Economic Forum report said on Friday.

Focus on soft infrastructure in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has led to successes in land rights issues, it said.

Launched in 2005, MGNREGA is UPA government’s flagship social programme. The scheme that guarantees 100 days of employment is applicable across the country.

“While a programme of this scale does not come without its trials — in MGNREGA’s case, allegations of funds leakages and misdirected capacity, it has enhanced the financial inclusion of many Indian farmers and holds the potential to make further strides in economic and agricultural development,” the report on WEF’s New Vision for Agriculture Initiative prepared in collaboration with McKinsey & Co, said.

Orissa has had recent success in employing rural village youth in inventory land and assist land administrators in regularising the land rights of small farmers, including those in tribal districts normally served by land administration, the report said highlighting success of the scheme.

The initiative is led by 26 global partner companies that span the full food value chain and beyond, including the Coca—Cola company, Diageo, DuPont, Monsanto Company, NestlPepsiCo, Rabobank International, Vodafone and Wal—Mart stores among others.

The report’s knowledge partners are: UN body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Harvard Kennedy School’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Meanwhile, the report said in the coming decades, a growing and increasingly affluent global population will demand a greater quantity, variety and nutritional value of food than the world has ever produced before.

“Meeting this demand will require a 70 per cent increase in food production, challenging a natural resource base that is already under significant strain”, it said.

This would also require major increases in investment — by up to 50 per cent for developing countries alone — in an era of economic crisis and austerity, the report added.