Third SAARC multi-stakeholders meeting held

24 June Thimphu: Thirty five delegates from SAARC countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, SAARC Agriculture Center and SAARC Secretariat attended the third multi-stakeholders dialogue on Agriculture with a theme “Sharing seed to enhance Food Security: ‘Seeds without Borders’ in SAARC Member States” as access, availability and affordability of quality seed of appropriate plant genetic resources to achieve higher and resilient crop productivity. The dialogue being held at Terma Linca marks the beginning of series of meeting being organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests culminating in fourth meeting of the SAARC Agriculture Ministers.

The multi-stakeholder’s dialogue was introduced in the SAARC Mechanism by the 13th SAARC submit as a platform for informal consultation and interaction among the experts and civil society representatives. 

South Asia region is almost a quarter of the global population, the majority of the population lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. It was highlighted that agriculture is therefore one of the first few areas identified for regional cooperation under the auspicious of SAARC. The high priority accorded by SAARC to agriculture and its elite sectors is also evident from pronouncement  of the leaders during several SAARC submits. 

SAARC Secretary General stated that the adoption of the SAARC agriculture vision 2020 manifest this all to ensure food and nutrition security as well as livelihood security in the region. He stated, in spite of significant progress made in realisation of vision of the leaders, Agriculture in  South Asia continues to face a host of changes including increasing population, shrinking parable lands and farm sizes, rapid urbanisation, climate change, natural disaster and animal plant diseases affecting the production of fruits crops and vegetables, livestock, poultry and fishery, as the factors detrimental to the livelihood, food and nutritional security particularly in rural areas. 

The Hon’ble Agriculture Secretary, Dasho Rinzin Dorji at the inaugural session shared that through this meeting SAARC region streamline the seed sector to facilitate enhancement of crop productivity and income of small scale farmers to result in a sustainable and resilient food systems in the region. Dasho also said “I foresee multi-stakeholder’s dialogue on seed sharing will be equally useful in bridging the gap among the member states and facilitate sharing of genetic resources for benefit of the farmers.”

The record in the third meeting of SAARC Agriculture Ministers meeting in Dhaka for the SAARC seed bank to facilitate exchange of high quality seed among the member states in a more systematic manner was also reiterated. 

The meeting provided major recommendations on the thematic issues related to Seeds without Borders and also discussed various cross-cutting regional issues/challenges in agricultural and rural development areas.

Reported by Tashi Yangzom with Photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD

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