Areas of Cooperation

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Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD)

As per the reconstituted SAARC Integrated Programme of Action (SIPA), the two Technical Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development were merged into one as the Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The reconstituted Committee under the chairmanship of Nepal started functioning in 2000 and held two meetings.

Following adoption of the Regional Integrated Programme of Action (RIPA) by the Twenty-fourth Session of the Council of Ministers in Islamabad in January 2004, India hosted the First Meeting of the Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (including Livestock and Fisheries) under RIPA in New Delhi on 22-23 June 2004.

It discussed a theme paper on "Water Resources Management for Agriculture in SAARC Countries". Amongst others, it also discussed the draft Terms of Reference for the establishment of a "SAARC Quadrangle Milk Grid", which elaborated on the possibility of establishing joint venture projects for processing milk into high value added shelf-life milk products and marketing these products in the proposed quadrangle covering Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. It considered a Concept Paper on "Exchange of Rural Development Volunteers in the SAARC Countries". It discussed modalities for the establishment of Regional Food Bank, as decided by the Twelfth SAARC Summit.

India hosted the Second Meeting of the SAARC Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in New Delhi from 27-28 June 2005. It had discussion on a theme paper titled “Water for Agriculture in SAARC Countries”. It deliberated on the Concept Paper prepared by India on the establishment of Regional Food Bank. The Meeting considered the Report of the SAARC-FAO Expert Level Meeting on Food Security, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs). The Meeting revised the project proposals and recommended their approval. Subsequently, the preceding meetings of the Thirteenth SAARC Summit approved the three projects jointly identified with FAO with some observations. Accordingly, FAO has recently approved a technical cooperation project paving the way for implementation of the project- Regional Strategy and Regional Programme for Food Security.

The Third Meeting of the Committee was held in New Delhi on 18-19 September 2006. It revised the Concept Paper on the SAARC Regional Food Bank. It recommended the Member States to prepare their country perspectives, based on which a SAARC Agricultural Perspective/Vision 2020 would be elaborated.

The functioning of the Technical Committee has been helpful in bridging critical knowledge gaps and in identifying many concrete areas for pursuing regional actions and projects. The previous meetings have identified many thematic areas for exchanging knowledge and best practices, harmonization of regional approaches and priority actions to be pursued both at the national and regional levels.

The Third Meeting of the TCARD found merit in creating synergy between SAARC and the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) based in Dhaka and recommended signing of an MoU between the two organizations. Subsequently, the Twenty-third Session of the Standing Committee (New Delhi, 31 March – 1 April 2007) authorized the Secretary General to sign MoU with CIRDAP, which was approved by the Twenty-eighty Session of the Council of Ministers (Islamabad, 2 April 2007). Accordingly, an MoU has been signed between the Secretary General of SAARC and the Director General of CIRDAP at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu on 20 April 2007.

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