Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Inaugural Session of the Regional Consultation Workshop on Gender Sensitive Value Chain in South Asia, in Kathmandu, this morning.
The Secretary General stated that a majority of the population of South Asia lived in rural areas, while agriculture continued to be the mainstay of the region’s economies. In this context, he said, “The SAARC Agriculture Perspective-2020 puts forth the visionary targets to be achieved across the region in agriculture and its allied sectors. Inspired by this visionary document, our ongoing efforts are geared towards making agriculture knowledge-intensive, market-oriented and demand-driven.”
Addressing the Inaugural Session, he further said, “Gender equality and development of sustainable food systems are interdependent goals.” In South Asia, a larger number of women were engaged in agriculture, contributing significantly to the goal of food security. Therefore, the contribution of women to the region’s economies was enormous and must be duly recognized.
While women are key actors in agriculture, they continued to face challenges in accessing productive resources and benefitting from effective participation in value chains. “Our efforts, therefore, should be directed towards promoting gender sensitive value chain in agriculture with a view to augmenting the livelihood of women in the region,” the Secretary General said. “It is also necessary to facilitate greater gender involvement in economic activities and livelihood initiatives so as to be able to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of our region.”
The Secretary General appreciated that FAO was using the value chain approach as the key to the development of sustainable food systems, with gender relations as a primary component of the socio-economic context. He said, “At the regional level, the SAARC Agriculture Centre, which is the Centre of Excellence, had long been undertaking various need-based programmes on value chain development and gender mainstreaming in agriculture.”
The Regional Consultation Workshop was organized by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Asian Farmers’ Association in collaboration with the SAARC Secretariat and the SAARC Agriculture Centre.
The Workshop has the participation of representatives both from the Government and Non-governmental entities as well as from regional and international organizations.
The Workshop will conclude on 14 June 2019.