Increasing agricultural productivity is key to tackle food security in South Asia: CUTS

November 04, 2008
“Increasing agricultural productivity through public and private investment for improving agricultural infrastructure, particularly irrigation through flood control, is key to tackle food security in South Asia,” said Bipul Chatterjee, Deputy Executive Director of CUTS International, a non-governmental think tank on economic policy research and advocacy. He was speaking on the eve of South Asian agriculture ministers meeting which will start in New Delhi from tomorrow.

One of the main agenda of this ministerial meeting is to discuss the operationalisation of South Asian Agricultural Perspective 2020 with policy measures for ensuring food security expected to occupy the centre stage. “Other than increasing food availability, economic and political governance at the local level are to be improved in order to ensure people’s right to food. Effective policy measures for better access to food are as important for food security as increasing food availability,” Chatterjee added.

Last month CUTS in partnership with Nepal-based SAWTEE (South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics & Environment) organised a Regional Civil Society Forum in Kathmandu on food security and related issues. Oxfam Novib as a development partner has supported SAWTEE and CUTS in organising this CSO Forum. In the Statement adopted at this meeting, South Asian civil society organisations have urged their governments “to initiate effective collaborative actions for addressing the food security concerns from the human rights perspective, both nationally and regionally, and redesign their policies on agriculture, food security and trade.”

In order to effectively and efficiently operationalise the proposed South Asian Food Bank, the Civil Society Statement recommended an institutional arrangement for periodic estimation of food demand and measures to increase storage capacity in South Asian countries. The Statement also brought into focus a number of other measures that South Asian countries needed to implement in areas such as bio-energy, climate change, trade, biotechnology, agricultural biodiversity, intellectual property rights.

According to Kamalesh Adhikari, Research Director of SAWTEE: “South Asian countries should promote community-based biodiversity management systems and practices for the protection of farmers’ rights to seeds, genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and for the strengthening of tripartite partnership among public, private and community actors and agencies.” Adhikari has also recommended that South Asian governments should make institutional efforts to promote the exchange and use of quality seeds within the region through the operationalisation of a Seed Bank, as this will help in increasing agricultural productivity as well as promoting cooperation in agricultural research.

CUTS and SAWTEE in partnership with Oxfam Novib are conducting policy research and advocacy on trade and economic development issues confronting the poor in South Asia.

For more information, please contact:
Bipul Chatterjee, +919829285921