Representatives of SAARC member nations called for better utilization of the ‘Seeds without Borders’ initiative to strengthen pulses value chains in the region for food and nutrition security.
The Seeds without Borders initiative, a five-year-old multiparty agreement between Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, was expanded to include Bhutan last year and now covers five of the eight SAARC member nations. The initiative facilitates inter-regional transfer of plant material. To support pulses value chains in SAARC, a work plan is essential to utilize the agreement, echoed representatives from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh at a Regional Consultation meeting organized at ICRISAT during 17–19 April.
“Given problems of the region, mainly increasing population and natural disasters, it is binding on SAARC to promote cooperation. SAARC is also committed to promoting research and reliable technology for enhancing productivity in agriculture,” Dr Pradyumna Raj Pandey, Senior Program Specialist (Crop) from SAARC’s Agriculture Centre (SAC) in Bangladesh, said.
Dr Peter Carberry, Director General, ICRISAT, said that value chains should focus on crops for both human and livestock consumption. Referring to India’s increased pulses production in recent years and the yield gaps in the region, Dr Carberry reaffirmed ICRISAT’s commitment to work with SAARC and regional partners.
SAC and ICRISAT signed an agreement in August 2016 for collaborations in research and developmental activities aimed at reducing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics of South Asia.
India, world’s largest producer and consumer of pulses, recorded a 72% increase in production during the last decade, pointed out Dr N P Singh, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research. Against 14 million tons in 2009-10, India produced 25.3 million tons in 2017-18, which is less than the existing demand of 28 million tons. India accounts for over 94% of SAARC’s pulses production.
Dr Singh and Dr S K Chaturvedi, Dean, Agriculture, Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, asserted that India was nearly self-sufficient in pulses following policy measures, including imposing tariffs on imports. Dr P Parthasarathy Rao, Agricultural Economist, ICRISAT, opined that imports continued after tariffs were levied. He also said prices of Indian pulses were higher in the global market, making export from India difficult for traders. The Indian government recently introduced 7% subsidy for pulses exports.
Talking about pulses value chain development in South Asia, Dr Pooran Gaur, Research Program Director–Asia, ICRISAT, said that Sri Lanka and Bangladesh continued to import pulses in large quantities. There was abundant scope to significantly improve value chains in these SAARC nations and the region itself, he added.
The Regional Consultation Meeting was organized with support from the CRP-Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.
For more on ICRISAT’s work on grain legumes, click here: http://exploreit.icrisat.org/profile/Grain%20Legumes/217