ISLAMABAD: Vice-President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pakistan chapter Iftikhar Ali Malik Saturday urged all eight members of the SAARC to work jointly to establish a single market and production base by integrating agricultural sector to promote equitable development, transforming South Asia into a global power besides attaining food autarky in the region.
According to a message received here, Iftikhar Ali Malik, presiding over a parallel session on “Agribusiness-Target-Doubling Agribusiness by 2030 ” on the second day of 3-day 6th SAARC Business Leaders Conclave being held at Kathmandu, said in principal it was decided that all the SAARC member states would exchange with each other new technologies and germ plasma to ensure food security in the region which would help them improve their system of agriculture and exports.
He also urged the SAARC member states to make joint efforts to deal with challenges such as water scarcity, food insecurity and malnutrition in the region.
“The threat of water scarcity looms large in the entire region. The population is increasing, but agricultural production is diminishing,” he said, adding post-harvest losses must be minimised to increase agricultural productivity.
He said that per capita water availability had decreased in the region over the years. “The per capita water availability is only 1,000 cubic metres per person. The figure was 5,200 cubic metres in 1947,” he added.
He said malnutrition affects 40 per cent of the children in the region. “We have to take steps to end this. We have to shift our focus from green revolution to ever-green revolution,” he added.
He said to attain the targets in agricultural sector, the member countries should resolve their all kinds of differences and eschew violence to work towards a prosperous region.
“We seek cooperation from all neighbouring countries for fighting against abject poverty so that together with SAARC countries we can create our importance and emerge as a power in the world.
It is imperative that we work together with a dream to win a fight against poverty, shoulder to shoulder,” he said.
For this purpose, Iftikhar Ali Malik suggested that a uniformed campaign should be launched in all SAARC countries to increase awareness against diseases in fruits, vegetables and other agricultural outputs that usually hinder region’s exports, especially in industrialised countries.
“We need joint programmes and being the member of SAARC we should experiment each others’ technologies and research findings in other ecologies to help develop food secure region,” he remarked.
Malik observed that the SAARC countries had had great potential to cooperate with each other for the development of agriculture sector, however there was need to cooperate and share research and technology with the member countries to help them develop their agriculture on modern lines.
He praised Pakistan for developing the state-of-the-art National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), which he said was not only contributing for the agricultural development of Pakistan but could play an important role in regional agriculture development.