SAARC members to discuss setting up food bank

August 16th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Aug 16 (IANS) The setting up of a food bank to meet exigencies caused by natural disasters in the region will be discussed by officials of eight South Asian countries at a conclave in Kathmandu mid-October, a Dhaka daily said quoting officials. All members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), except newly inducted Afghanistan, have ratified an agreement on the establishment of the food bank in the Colombo summit earlier this month to ensure food security of the region.

A special meeting of the eight agriculture ministers will take place in November in New Delhi for short and mid-term strategies and projects.

Foreign ministry officials here said as a prelude to the ministerial meeting, the first meeting of the SAARC food bank board would be held in Kathamndu Oct 15-16.

Dhaka has taken the initiative after being hit by two rounds of floods and landslides and a massive cyclone last year during each of which it faced serious food shortages.

The cyclone last December led Bangladesh to seek emergency imports of rice. Exports from India, despite its own shortfalls, helped meet the situation.

The SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu Aug 12 requested the respective foreign ministries of the member nations to nominate members for the board meeting.

Officials said the first board meeting on the SAARC food bank would touch upon all the technical issues on food security on short and long term basis.

The official said apart from taking measures to ensure food security during emergency the focus would be put on attracting investments for the agriculture and agro-based industries.

“The short and mid-term strategies and projects will include issues of agriculture research and prevention of soil health degradation, development and sharing of agricultural technologies, and sharing of the best practices in procurement and distribution and management of the climatic and disease-related risks in agriculture,” said Qazi Imtiaz Hossain, director general, SAARC, at Bangladesh’s foreign office.

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