SAARC builds new partnership to help South Asia farmers

New Age Online

SAARCA new partnership has developed to build a network to accelerate the use of technologies in agriculture across the eight South Asian countries, including Bangladesh.
Aiming to build the network, a memorandum of understanding was signed between SAARC Agriculture Centre in Bangladesh and the International Crops Research Institute for the semi-arid tropics on Wednesday at ICRISAT headquarters at Hyderabad in India.
SAC director Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar and ICRISAT director general David Bergvinson signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides, according to an ICRISAT media release, reports United News of Bangladesh.
ICRISAT and SAC will look for opportunities to carry out joint research in areas of mutual interest by sharing existing resources and results reciprocally, as well as facilitate policy changes in national agricultural research systems to speed up the process of varietals release and dissemination in the region.
Under the collaboration, new and appropriate technologies will be adopted for maximising production and increasing sustained productivity in stress-prone areas through the extensive SAARC network. This will help small farmers adopt these new and improved technologies to increase food production and raise their incomes in areas of limited water.
Bokhtiar said one of the biggest challenges for the region is food and nutritional security.
‘In the past, we did not talk about the nutritional quality of our agriculture but now it is of high importance. We’ll be working with the region to pull together a regional strategy for food and
nutrition. We’re also very sensitive to climate change which is a big issue,’ he said.
Being rice growing countries the large use of ground water is a big issue, Bokhtiar said, adding that they are also using and depleting so many nutrients from the soil, which will be a big problem for the next generation.
He said SAARC can help facilitate the exchange of technologies between countries in the region, which can save time and achieve successes faster.
‘ICRISAT welcomes this partnership with SAARC to accelerate the release of proven crop production technologies across South Asia, especially improved varieties as has been done for rice. Apart from
accelerated release of improved varieties, ICRISAT sees additional opportunities in sharing best practice in seed systems and can work with SAARC on their new seed bank,’ said David Bergvinson.

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