Farm technologies are not reaching farmers on the ground, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh observed here on Monday and said “it represents the failure of the system.”

He was speaking at the Golden Jubilee convocation of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here.

The annual farm growth rate was expected to be 3.5 per cent in the 12th Plan period ending this year, he said, but there was concern over the gap between crop yield per hectare and the achievable potential under ideal farming practices.

“It is the job of the administration to close this gap and our farm strategy must prioritise this effort,'' he pointed out.

“The 3.5 per cent per annum growth rate is commendable but we must improve upon it to reach 4 per cent or even higher in the 12th Plan,” he said, adding that this would require a determined effort by the Centre and the States.

The Prime Minister's remarks came after Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar presented him with a scroll conferring the honorary doctorate of science by the Institute. Mr. Pawar is president of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, IARI's parent body.

Dr. Singh said he was worried that the agriculture extension services system — responsible for taking the Green Revolution to the farmers — was no longer robust. There was a pressing need to revitalise it with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Agriculture Technology Management Agencies in collaboration with panchayats, farm scientists and district-level officials.

Stating that farm research was the key element in achieving higher expansion, he said the agricultural research system should be strengthened to meet future challenges in water and soil management, provision of farm credit and marketing support.

“One requirement is the financial resources. Our government is committed to raising research and development spending as a whole to at least 2 per cent of the GDP by the end of the 12th Plan from the current level of about one per cent,” he said.

The Prime Minister said policy initiatives in the farm sector had paid off as the country's food grain production this year was set to exceed a record 250 million tonnes.

It is estimated that the country would need an additional 50 million tonnes of food grain in the next 10 years to meet the domestic demand, he added.

Earlier, IARI Director H.S. Gupta pointed out that achieving parity with the global level of excellence was possible only if the Indian scientists enjoyed international level of investments to restore the weakening infrastructure.

Seeking parity of investments in research and development to two per cent of the GDP as in other developing countries such as Brazil and South Africa, he said: “Higher allocation could make best use of the public funds to ensure food and nutrition security and empower millions of Indian farmers.”