Saarc agri ministers’ meet ends with Dhaka statement
8 April 2016, Nirapad News: The third Saarc agriculture ministers’ meeting ended here on Thursday adopting a 12-point ‘Dhaka Statement’ that focused on identifying barriers to agricultural trade and addressing those through joint efforts.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, newly elected chair of the meeting of Saarc agriculture ministers, described the meeting as ‘successful’.
She hoped that the meeting, held after long eight years, and the ‘Dhaka Statement on Agriculture and Rural Development’ will play an important role in achieving sustainable agriculture development in South Asia and ensuring food security.
“It’s a good sign t the meeting is held after long eight years. We will work together on agreed 12 areas,” Matia told reporters at a press conference at Sonargaon Hotel in the city after the meeting.
She said the Saarc Member States and the Saarc Secretariat will take necessary steps to implement the agreed areas.
The Saarc countries agreed to address the barriers that are hindering the operationalisation of the Saarc Food Bank on priority basis, she said.
With support from international specialised bodies such as UNESCAP, a comprehensive guideline will be developed covering issues such as pricing, transportation, threshold, gain quality, storage facility and location.
Agriculture Secretary Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah who was present at the press conference said the Saarc Food Bank will become a reality as international bodies are coming up with ‘technical and financial’ supports.
He also said the Saarc Member countries learned from Bangladesh’s success in agriculture sector and the idea of Bangladesh’s floating garden agricultural technology as globally important agricultural heritage system (GIAHS) recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Asked about the implementation of the decisions, Matia said there will be sincere efforts from Bangladesh part and hoped that others will play similar role.
The Saarc member states agreed that a joint consultative meeting between Safta Committee of experts and Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD) will ascertain and recommend what agriculture items currently on the Safta sensitive list could be delisted.
The meeting also decided to undertake time-befitting rural development projects with support from the Saarc Development Fund, and if additionally required, other multi-lateral financial institutions.
The Saarc member states will provide all possible supports to turn the Saarc Agriculture Centre (SAC) into a ‘center of excellence’ so that it can contribute towards making important scientific breakthrough in agriculture and rural development.
The countries also agreed to further strengthen cooperation among them in agriculture and rural development and making sustainable progress.
Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the meeting. Saarc Agriculture Ministers including Indian Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Pakistan National Food Security and Research Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan were present.
Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh will jointly host the meeting.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) is an organisation of eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh also announced that it will convene the third Saarc Ministers’ meeting on Science and Technology in the third quarter of the current year, the Saarc Cultural Ministers’ meeting and the inaugural session of the Saarc Cultural Capital programme in October and the fifth meeting of Saarc Ministers on Poverty Alleviation in February 2017, as part of fulfilling Bangladesh’s commitment to the Saarc process.