The Union agriculture ministry surrendered Rs 44,015.81 crore of its budget in the last three years as it could not completely utilise the allocation in some schemes, a Parliamentary Standing Committee report released on Monday said, reported The Indian Express.

In its report titled “Demand for Grants (2023-24) of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare”, the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing, led by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA PC Gaddigoudar, asked the Centre to avoid the practice of surrendering the funds.

The amount was surrendered by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

“The committee note from the reply of the Department [of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare] that funds have been surrendered amounting to Rs 23,824.54 crore, Rs 429.22 crore and Rs 19,762.05 crore during 2020-’21, 2021-’22 and 2022-’23 [tentative], respectively,” the report said.

The Standing Committee noted that the Centre’s budget outlay in 2020-’21 was Rs 30,42,230.09 crore that increased to Rs 45,03,097.45 crore in 2023-’24.

However, at the same time, the budgetary allocation to the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare reduced from 4.41% of the Union Budget in 2020-’21 to 2.57% in 2023-’24, the panel said.

“Taking into account the prominent role played by agriculture in rural livelihood, employment generation and food security of the country, the committee recommend the department to take up the issue of budgetary allocation in percentage terms out of Central Pool with the Ministry of Finance and ensure that trend is reversed from the next Budget onwards,” the panel said, according to The Indian Express.

The ministry had told the committee that the funds were surrendered mainly due to less requirement in schemes for benefiting those in the northeastern states, Schedule Caste Sub-Plan and Tribal Area Sub-Plan.

The Standing Committee observed that the Centre should avoid surrendering funds by all means so that benefits from the schemes reach the farmers, reported The Indian Express.

“The committee, therefore, recommends the department to identify reasons leading to surrender of funds and take corrective measures to ensure that the funds are utilised fully and efficiently,” the report added.