Saarc ministers, experts meet to talk agriculture today
Issues concerning the state of agriculture in South Asia, food insecurity and effects of climate change on agricultural sector of the region will come up at a three-day meeting of ministers and experts from the region, beginning here today.
The meet on "Science-based Agricultural Transformation Towards Alleviation of Hunger and Poverty in SAARC Countries" will suggest necessary policy and programme shifts to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals and promote science-based agriculture in the region.
About 40 per cent of the world's poor reside in South Asia and the responsibility to eradicate poverty lies more on SAARC countries, said the Chairman of the Steering Committee, organizing the meet, Suresh Prabhu, a former Indian minister.
India as an emerging economy with rising rural consumption has to take the lead in taking the challenge of meeting food requirements of South Asian region, which faces a major problem in meeting food requirements, he said.
India's internationally-acclaimed agro scientist M S Swaminathan said the need of the hour was to increase food supply to fight hunger, otherwise the poor people will further move away from access to basic food because of rising commodity prices across the world.
The meeting will also discuss how Saarc countries can share knowledge to mitigate the impact of global warming and consequent climate change on agriculture in South Asia, which is the world's only region prone to highest numbers of natural disasters like cyclone, flood, Tsunami and earthquake.
This assumes significance as the United Nations' Environmental Panel on Climate Change has already warned that climate change would trigger the worst agrarian crisis in South Asia, said IPCC head and leading environmentalist R K Pachauri.
Prabhu said Saarc region has similar agro-climatic conditions and one successful knowledge application can generally be used to overcome the problem.
Swaminathan said the governments of South Asian countries need to take steps to make agriculture economically viable to address the agrarian crisis and technology is necessary to increase farm production.
Any substantial fall in farm yield would seriously jeopardise food security in South Asia and would raise the number of malnourished people in the region, experts warn.
The three-day meeting, to be inaugurated by Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, will be attended by Agriculture Ministers, farm scientists and nearly 100 farmers from eight Saarc countries--Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India.