SAARC ministers to enhance cooperation in agriculture

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (UNI) The extraordinary meeting of SAARC Agriculture Ministers concluded here today with a consensus to enhance cooperation in a range of areas, including sharing of agricultural technologies and management of climatic and disease-related risks in agriculture.

The meeting, chaired by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, had been called on the directive of the 15th SAARC Summit and the Colombo statement on Food Security.

The ministers shared their views on increase in food production, investment in agriculture and agro-based industries, agriculture research and prevention of soil health degradation and sharing of best practices in procurement and distribution.

The SAARC Agriculture ministers approved the reports of the special session of the technical committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, held on November 3, and the senior officials meeting held yesterday.

Noting that intra-regional cooperation among the SAARC member states was critical to address the current challenges in food shortage affecting the world, the Ministers urged early implementation of operationalisation of the Food Bank, SAARC Agricultural Vision 2020 and its roadmap, cooperation in trans-boundary animal diseases, especially avian flu and network on harmonisation of quarantine and capacity building.

The intent to harmonise biofertiliser standards through the SAARC Regional Standards Organisation was signed. Two declarations, one on UG99 and the other on food security were agreed upon.

The SAARC ministers also reiterated the importance of tapping local talent and resources to achieve the objectives set. They also directed that regional and sub-regional projects identified at the meeting be immediately implemented.

The meeting underlined the goodwill existing between SAARC member states in using the multilateral dialogue process to realise the South Asian people desire for economic development and food security.

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