Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Inaugural Session of the “Regional Consultation on Fish Culture in Cages and Pens in Reservoirs, Lakes, Rivers and Marine Waters for Aquaculture Diversification in South Asia” in Pokhara this morning.
The Regional Consultation, which was organized by the SAARC Agriculture Centre in collaboration with the Government of Nepal, was attended by the representatives of all the Member States.
In his address, the Secretary General said, “The domain of ‘food and nutrition security’ is complex and multidimensional. It cannot be looked at merely in terms of augmenting production and distribution of crops. It also implies increasing production and productivity of non-crops like fisheries, livestock and horticulture.”
“South Asia is home to around a quarter of the global population. Ensuring food and nutrition security for such a huge population is indeed an enormous challenge, despite the fact that our region is endowed with vast agricultural landmass and unmatched agricultural diversity,” he said. “Although agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the South Asian economies, the agricultural sector in the region encounters massive challenges, which include, inter alia, increasing population, shrinking arable lands and farm sizes, rapid urbanization, and impact of climate change and natural disasters.”
The Secretary General said that with increasing global population, the demand on fisheries for food and nutrition security has substantially increased and that Asia is the largest contributor to world aquaculture. In 2016, 85 percent of the global population engaged in fisheries and aquaculture belonged to Asia, with India and Bangladesh ranking the second and fifth largest in aquaculture production.
He expressed the confidence that the Regional Consultation will provide a welcome opportunity to the participants to share the best practices and experiences in aquaculture to help meet the challenges of the Member States.
In his address, the Secretary General also referred to the “SAARC Agriculture Vision 2020”, which, he said, showed the way forward for enhanced regional engagement in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. He appreciated the important role being played by the SAARC Agricultural Centre in carrying forward this vision.