SAARC agricultural cooperation gets new momentum: Bangladesh Minister Matia
Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-04-07 22:07:10.0 BdST Updated: 2016-04-07 22:28:21.0 BdST
The SAARC agriculture ministers in their third meeting have agreed on a number of issues to give a fresh impetus to their cooperation for ensuring food security in the region.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Afghanistan are the members of this economic and political forum that started functioning in 1985.
But the region is known as the least integrated one in the world and the grouping has failed to show any collective gains so far.
Even Thursday’s agriculture ministers’ meeting in Dhaka was held after eight years.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the gathering and said there was no alternative to joint initiatives by the countries of the region to eradicate poverty and hunger.
The ministers adopted a “Dhaka Statement” on agriculture and rural development, agreeing on 12 issues.
She said the ‘Dhaka Statement’ will serve as a “vision document” for a sustainable agriculture system in South Asia.
“We adopted this unanimously. And all countries are now committed to holding regular meetings,” she said.
The minister said international and multi-national organisations were also showing interest to work with SAARC in the agriculture sector.
What the ministers agreed
India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan agriculture ministers joined the meeting while the other countries were represented by their senior officials.
In the joint statement, they agreed that the cooperation must be further strengthened and sustained.
They also agreed to identify and address the barriers to agriculture trade at the regional level.
They agreed on a joint consultative meeting between SAFTA Committee of Experts and Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD) to ascertain and recommend what agricultural items could be dropped from the SAFTA sensitive list.
The non-tariff barriers in agricultural trade “are to be properly looked at”.
The ongoing partnership of SAARC with the FAO and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on livestock matters will continue.
The member states also agreed to provide all possible support to turn the SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC) into a ‘centre of excellence’ so that it can contribute to making important scientific breakthrough in agriculture and rural development.
The ministers and officials decided to ensure exchange of high quality germplasm through the SAARC Seed Bank and Livestock Gene Bank.
The SAARC Food Bank will be made effective on a priority basis, and support from the UNESCAP and other specialised bodies will be taken.
SAARC Secretariat will partner with relevant regional and international specilalised bodies and development partner institutions to harness expertise and capacities available in the region to commission studies on the scope of agro-processing in South Asia and potential markets both within and beyond.
The SAARC Agriculture Centre will facilitate exchange at the levels of scientists, farmers and extension workers in the region.
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