New Delhi, Mar.5 : The first SAARC conference on agriculture began here today with a focus on alleviating hunger and poverty in the region. A three-day meet will discuss the regional agrarian situation, encompassing food insecurity and poverty and suggest necessary policy and programme shifts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar inaugurated the conference. Renowned agricultural scientistM S Swaminathan who was also present at the conference stressed on the need for fighting hunger and stepping up food supply in the world.
"The world is at the crossroads in terms of the global food security system. There is no likelihood of petroleum prices going down in the near future. Global food prices will be high and the demand for land for fuel production, biofuel versus food has grown and therefore all of us should try hard to become self reliant in food and at the same time attack the problem of malnutrition to appropriate food base as well as other forms of intervention," Swaminathan said. About 100 farmers from eight members of the SAARC region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), farm ministers and agricultural scientists are expected to participate in the event. The event is being organised by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser and Cooperative Ltd, IFFCO Foundation along with Indian Council of Agricultural Research.