SAARC role urged to eliminate hunger

November 06, 2012


The major food producer of the world

ISLAMABAD – Despite the fact that South Asia has been the major food producer of the world; there is a widespread prevalence of hunger in almost all member states of SAARC because it has failed to take up issues of climate change, free trade and sustainable agriculture which have serious impacts on the lives of poor people particularly the small farmers living in the region.

In a press release issued here Monday, ActionAid Pakistan, Pakistan Kisan Ittehad, and Lok Sanjh have laid particular emphasis on opening up formal spaces for the engagement of civil society organisations (CSOs) and the general public like small holder farmers from all member countries in SAARC led initiatives so that it maintains its relevance and currency in terms of its agenda to make South Asia a prosperous and hunger free region.

Though South Asia produces more than half of the world food, now it is considered to be among the highest food insecure regions across the world. Food mismanagement as well as impact of climate change has altered the situation altogether as threats of food insecurity are intensifying with each passing day. There is need for SAARC to focus on pro-people economic and trade policies for South Asia to manifest its commitment towards zero-tolerance against hunger.

Unfortunately all SAARC member states like Pakistan have been entrapped in multiple issues of climate change, food insecurity and absolute poverty due to recurrent floods, droughts and erratic rainfall; hence it becomes imperative for SAARC to strengthen its policies and frameworks for promotion of Sustainable Agriculture which laid emphasis on advancement of agro industry and transfer of agro technology to the member states.

Uzma Tahir, Manager Policy, Advocacy and Research Unit ActionAid Pakistan said that involvement of small holder farmer organizations from different SAARC member countries was important for designing, preparation and launch of SAARC Seed Bank which might ultimately help promotion of sustainable agriculture in disaster prone South Asian countries. She said that there was need for promoting multilateralism instead of bilateralism to make SAARC more effective in addressing poverty and food insecurity related issues of the member states.

Nasir Aziz, Food Rights Focal Person from ActionAid Pakistan said that information sharing was a key to enhancing credibility and outreach of SAARC which, he lamented, was being ignored as mostly such forums had been held without taking the civil society and general public onboard. There was also need to review definition of Food and Seed Banks because these terms were merely confined to disasters and emergencies while there could be many other factors like irrational price hike, inefficient trade policies and bad governance.

Dr Shahid from Lok Sanjh said that SAARC should work on the rights of women farmers who produce more than 60% of the world food but their role in ensuring food security is not recognized globally particularly in South Asia therefore there was need to promote regional women agriculture cooperatives.

The sixth Conference, which is hosted by Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan, Dr. Fehmida Mirza has been deliberating on important agenda relating to Millennium Development Goals and the need for developing participatory democracy. The civil society look forward to see inclusion of public demands in the final recommendations being proposed by the speakers and participants of the forum.


Courtesy: The NATION

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