A new partnership has been formed to build a network to accelerate the use of technologies in agriculture across eight countries in South Asia. This was announced at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Agriculture Centre (SAC) and ICRISAT.
SAC and ICRISAT will look for opportunities to carry out joint research in areas of mutual interest by sharing existing
resources and results, as well as facilitate policy changes in National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) to speed up the process of varietal release and dissemination in the region.
Under the collaboration, new and appropriate technologies will be adopted for maximizing production and to increase sustained productivity in stress-prone areas through the extensive network of SAARC. This will help smallholder farmers adopt these new and improved technologies to increase food production and raise their incomes in areas having limited water.
“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 practices in seed systems and can work with SAARC on their new Seed Bank. SAARC’s initiative to harmonize standards for foods in the region will be very important so farmers can realize better prices through transparent grades and standards. We are keen to work with SAARC to achieve these important outcomes that will benefit smallholder farmers’ access better technology and consumers in accessing better nutrition through diversified diets.” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, at the signing of the MoU with Dr Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, Director, SAC.
Dr Bokhtiar noted that 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 will be working with the region to pull together a regional strategy for food and nutrition. We are also very sensitive to climate change which is a big issue. Being rice-growing countries heavy use of ground water is a big issue. We are also using and depleting so many nutrients from the soil, which will be a big problem for the next generation. SAARC can help facilitate the exchange of technologies between countries in the region. This can save time and achieve successes faster.”
This collaboration will significantly contribute to the medium-term food and nutritional security in the region. The poor people of these areas are also the most vulnerable to climate change and variability. These areas are typified by low productivity and inadequate capacity for coping with risk due to climate adversities, poor soil conditions, and a lack of farming skills, knowledge and poor management practices.
SAC is the first regional agriculture centre of the SAARC and aims to accelerate the process of economic and social development among member countries through promotion of agricultural research for development as well as technology dissemination initiatives for sustainable agricultural development and poverty alleviation in the region.