Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of the country. It contributes 12.7% (2009) to GDP, accounts for 25% (2010) of foreign exchange earnings and earns nearly 12% (2010) of government revenue at constant price in 2002. And about 32.7% (2010) of the work force is engaged in agriculture, livestock and fisheries. The Govern- ment undertook a comprehensive survey of the country’s agriculture and food situation in 1983/84 in order to develop a framework of poli- cies, programmes and projects for the future. Agricultural research was indentified as an important area for strengthening. Agricultural Research Group (ARG) comprised of representatives of all agricultural research organizations and a few senior agricultural scien- tists was established as a result of a meeting convened by the National Planning Division of the Ministry of Finance and Planning in Septem- ber 1983. The ARG recognized the need for a comprehensive review, analysis, and evaluation of the then existing agricultural research system and the need to formulate such changes, additions and modifi- cations which were considered desirable to improve the capacity and capability of the research system. This review was carried out in three stages. The first was a description of the current situation in all the institutions, including research structure, manpower, resources and conditions of service, administrative and financial procedures, and priority and policy guide-lines. The second was an analysis of the range of linkages between research mstitutions and national and international bodies, an assessment of how effectively national priorities are reflected in the research programmes of the various institutions, a comparison of alternative research structures and organizations, and finally, development of proposals for projects designed to strengthen the agricultural research System in order to enhance its role in national agricultural development. The assistance of the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) was obtained in an advisory capacity during the latter stages of this exercise. This study was carried out during 1983-85.
The present institutional set up of NARS evolved historically as research services had grown in association with various Ministries and Boards. The distribution and range of Ministries were the result of the strategic allocation of responsibilities to the dominant development activities, rather than to their research components. The need to develop a coordinated or unified national outlook on research must not interfere with its strategic distribution of Ministries. It is in fact important that research should be closely linked to the development processes it serves. In this process increased research effectiveness, improved linkages between policy planning and research within Ministries were deemed Important. There remained, however, the urgent need for a national coordination body to guide research activities. It was considered that such an independent research authority would further weaken the linkages between development Ministries and research institutions. If extension services were to remain within the development Ministries, additional mechanisms would have to be built up to maintain close contacts between research and extension. In addition, extensive arrangement was necessary to the Acts governing the operations of all semi-autonomous agricultural research institutions.