Press Release

H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressed the Inaugural Session of the International Conference on Doubling the Income of Farmers of SAARC Countries in Kathmandu today.


Co-organized by Nepal Agricultural Extension Association, Nepal Agriculture Information and Training Centre and International Society of Extension Education, the four-day Conference brought together representatives from the Member States of SAARC to exchange views on agricultural extension strategies and approaches. In addition, a large number of professionals and experts from several regional and international organizations are attending the Conference.


Addressing the International Conference, the Secretary General said, “Although our region is endowed with abundant human and natural resources and agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the South Asian economies, the agricultural sector encounters massive challenges, which include increasing population, shrinking arable lands and farm sizes, rapid urbanization, impact of climate change, natural disasters, post-harvest losses, animal diseases, etc.”


The Secretary General said that much of the agricultural production in the region is undertaken by smallholders. In the context of diminishing farm sizes and other existing challenges, appropriate approaches and strategies for sustainable agriculture can play an instrumental role in enhancing the income of farmers as well as in achieving food security, improving nutrition, developing value chain and eventually contributing to poverty alleviation and ending hunger.


Since the inception of SAARC in 1985, the leaders have underscored the importance of agriculture in the context of overall developmental goals of the region. He further stated, “Food and nutrition security and agriculture constitute a key component of cooperation under the framework of SAARC. The “SAARC Agriculture Vision 2020” shows the way forward for enhanced regional engagement in the field of agriculture and related sectors.”


The conference was informed that regional projects on “Consortium for Scaling-up Climate Smart Agriculture in South Asia” and on "Livelihood enhancement of small farmers in SAARC region through small agro-business focusing on value chain development" have been recently developed, while projects on Zero Energy Cold Storage, Post-Harvest Management and Value Addition of Fruits are being implemented.


The SAARC Agriculture Centre, which is a centre of excellence, has been doing a commendable job in research and development in the field of agriculture. Some of the need-based programmes recently undertaken by the Centre include Conservation Agriculture, Climate-smart agricultural policies and strategies, and risk management for small farmers.


Kathmandu, 20 September 2018

“By economically empowering women, not only we promote gender equality but also socio-economic development. Once women are empowered, both the society and economy will transform,” said H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), addressing the Valedictory Session of the International Women Entrepreneurs’ Summit-2018 in Kathmandu this morning as the Chief Guest.


Organized by the South Asian Women Development Forum, a Recognized Body of SAARC, the Summit brought together women entrepreneurs from 27 countries, and business leaders, experts, and representatives from both the governmental and non-governmental entities.


The three-day Summit, which commenced on 03 September 2018, carried the theme, Equality Begins with Economic Empowerment.


In his Valedictory Address, the Secretary General further said, “We are living in an era when the environment has been socially, culturally, legally and politically supportive of women’s empowerment. As a result, there is a growing realization among the women across the globe of their legitimate rights. Young girls are increasingly exercising their right to education. Single mothers and widows are gradually engaging themselves in home-based income-generating activities to become financially independent.”


He highlighted the regional instruments adopted by SAARC in empowering women and promoting gender equality, with particular reference to the SAARC Social Charter, and Regional Convention on Combatting the Crime of Trafficking Women and Children for Prostitution. He also referred to the regional mechanisms working in the field of women, namely, the Ministerial Meeting on Women, Technical Committee of Women, Youth and Children.


He added, “In essence, our focus has been on promoting women’s education; protecting their rights; ensuring that they are free from all sorts of discrimination, both at home and in society; promoting their active participation in socio-economic development; and above all, empowering them economically.”

Kathmandu, 05 September 2018

On behalf of officials of the SAARC Secretariat and on his own behalf, H. E. Mr. Amjad Hussain B. Sial, Secretary General of SAARC, today sent a message of felicitation to H. E. Dr. Arif Alvi on his election as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.


In a letter addressed to the President, the Secretary General said, “Your Excellency’s election to the lofty position is amply demonstrative of the trust and confidence reposed in your able statesmanship.”


The Secretary General also acknowledged the constructive role of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in promoting regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC since its inception in 1985. Further acknowledging the support extended by the Government of Pakistan to SAARC and the SAARC Secretariat, he expressed the hope that the Nineteenth SAARC Summit to be hosted by Pakistan will accelerate the momentum of the SAARC process in promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia, which, he added, is one of the Charter objectives of SAARC.


The Secretary General also wished H. E. the President great success in the sublime position.


Kathmandu, 05 September 2018

H. E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, visited the SAARC Headquarters this morning.


H. E. the President was accompanied by his entourage and the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Nepal.


To commemorate his visit to the Secretariat, H. E. the President planted a tree in its premises and signed the Visitors’ Book.


In his remarks on the Visitors’ Book, H. E. the President stated, “Sri Lanka strongly supports regional cooperation and integration in order to promote the well-being of the peoples of South Asia; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural interaction in the region; and for promoting and strengthening collective voice of the countries of South Asia.”


After taking a tour of the Secretariat premises, H. E. the President, in his address, stated that as a founding member of SAARC, Sri Lanka remains committed to the SAARC process. He stated that the Member States should work in the spirt of brotherhood to achieve the objectives of SAARC.


H. E. the President thanked the Secretary General for his diligence and dedication for sustaining the momentum of the SAARC process. He appreciated the Secretary General for creating a conducive working environment in the Secretariat to enable the officials to work effectively. He also appreciated the good work and commitment of the Secretariat’s officials.


Earlier, delivering his welcome remarks, the Secretary General of SAARC said, “Your Excellency’s momentous visit is a testimony to the importance that you personally and the esteemed Government of Sri Lanka attach to the SAARC process.”


He further stated, “As a founding member of SAARC, Sri Lanka has been playing a very constructive role in its evolution since its inception in December 1985. As the host of three SAARC Summits and the three-time Chair of SAARC, Sri Lanka has contributed enormously in enriching the SAARC process.


Since its establishment in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987, several SAARC Heads of State and Government have visited the Secretariat.


H. E. the President’s current visit is the second one of a Head of State or Government to the SAARC Headquarters this year. In March, during his bilateral visit to Nepal, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan visited the SAARC Secretariat.


SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu

02 September 2018