English | Dzongkha Friday, September 25, 2020

Exchange and sharing of seeds among the SAARC region expected to improve

Pema Tshewang
Jun 28, 2019

With the conclusion of the fourth Meeting of Agriculture Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) yesterday, exchange and sharing of seeds among the SAARC region is expected to improve.

The four-day meeting was aimed to identify issues related to agriculture and consolidate the regional efforts to enhance the development of agriculture in the SAARC region.

During the inaugural of the meeting, the secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests said, the exchange of genetic resources will help to achieve fair and equitable agricultural outcomes in the SAARC regions.

“I foresee this meeting on Multi-Stakeholder dialogue and seed sharing will equally be useful in bridging the gap among the Member States and facilitating and sharing of genetic resource for the benefit of the farmers,” said Rinzin Dorji, the Secretary of MoAF.

Though there are some seed agreements among the SAARC countries, exchange and sharing of a variety of seeds within the SAARC region is not an easy task. Harmonizing biodiversity policies is one major resolution among many resolutions passed during the meeting. Bhutan is a member to SAARC Seed Bank, SAARC Food Bank, SAARC Seed Forum and Seeds Without Borders.

“Every country has biodiversity policies. So what this meeting has resolved now is try to harmonize even this national policies and SAARC Secretariat and SAARC Agriculture Centre has been advised to develop a protocol on how seeds can be shared efficiently and effectively,” Tayan Raj Gurung (PhD), Specialist, MoAF, said.

The other important resolutions include building of a regional consortium on agriculture marketing and to find ways to address the issues of trans-boundary animal and plant diseases among others.

The regional cooperation in agriculture and rural development predates the formal inception of SAARC in 1985. And agriculture was one of the five areas identified by the foreign secretaries of the South Asian countries.

“South Asia constitutes almost a quarter of the global population. The majority of our population lives in rural areas and depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. Agriculture is, therefore, one of the first few areas identified for regional cooperation under the auspices of the SAARC,” said Amjad Hussain B. Sial, the Secretary General of SAARC.

Except Afghanistan, participants from all member countries took part in the meeting. The fifth agriculture ministerial level meeting will be held at Kathmandu in Nepal.

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