ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan has announced that Pakistan has doubled its wheat contribution from 40,000 tons to 80,000 tons to the Saarc Food Bank.
He made the announcement at the 10th board meeting of the Saarc Food Bank, hosted by Pakistan on January 21-22.
“Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries are tied in several commonalities of culture, food and environment that can lead us to making joint efforts to end hunger, poverty and malnutrition in the region,” he said.
The minister emphasised the need for undertaking joint efforts to address regional challenges like climate change, and shifting focus to enhancing intra-regional supply of food products.
“For this purpose, the Saarc Food Bank provides an excellent platform to member states to interact with each other for intra-regional supply of foodgrains,” he said.
The board meeting was held to work out recommendations for making the Food Bank functional. For the purpose, international development partners working in the region may also be engaged.
At the inaugural session of the meeting on Monday, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Secretary Dr M Hashim Popalzai emphasised that Pakistan had surplus production of food commodities, which may be supplied to the South Asian region – home to around one-fourth of the world population.
He underscored the important role the Food Bank could play in the supply of foodgrains in the region to achieve the goal of regional food security. He suggested that all members of the bank could mutually work out the modalities for operationalising the bank with support of the Saarc Secretariat.
Senior Joint Secretary Dr Javed Humayun from Pakistan chaired the meeting. Bank’s members from the South Asian region including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka were present in the huddle.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2019.