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Project launched to tackle impact of climate change in South Asia

Published : Thursday, 25 November, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 265

Aiming at developing evidence-based strategies to collectively tackle the impact of climate change in South Asia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and SAARC Development Fund (SDF) have launched a partnership for scaling-up Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in South Asia.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque inaugurated the official launch of the project at a programme organized in BARC Complex in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The project will target to benefit smallholders focusing on women farmers, as well as researchers, extension workers, and policy makers in SAARC member countries with a particular focus on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka for piloting and scaling up of CSA technologies.
All SAARC countries including Maldives will also benefit from capacity building and knowledge sharing activities. The consortium kicked-off with an initial pilot investment of about US$3.1 million provided by IFAD, SAC, IFPRI and SDF. The partner organizations believe that the size of investment will grow in the coming years.
The partnership will also focus on promoting sustainable and resilient agricultural intensification in South Asia through building the capacity of institutions and enhancing skills, to scale-up climate smart strategies and technologies.
The SAC will promote and support regional cooperation among SAARC Member States (SMS) in fostering sustainable and resilient agricultural adaptation in South Asia. Currently, cross-border cooperation between National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) in South Asia has largely remained constrained due to lack of capacity.
According to an estimate, the region could lose between 10 to 50 per cent of crop production by end of the century due to global warming. Yet, the sector is still the main source of livelihood for over 50 per cent of the population in South Asia. This reality calls for integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies with overarching goal of ensuring food, nutrition, and livelihood security for millions of underprivileged and marginalized people living in the region.
During the inaugural ceremony, SAARC member states outlined their roles and responsibilities for implementing the project. The event also highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in promoting sustainable and resilient agricultural intensification in South Asia.
In his speech, Dr. Razzaque said, "South Asia is vulnerable to climate change and related food security shocks; I commend SAARC and its partners on establishing the consortium for deepening regional cooperation, to address the impacts of climate change through streamlining climate smart strategies and technologies."
"The agreement will strengthen IFAD's partnership with SAARC to work together on improving food security and to benefit smallholder agriculture in the region," said Abdel Karim Sma, Lead Regional Economist of IFAD. "The project will look at climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices in the context of farming systems that integrate benefits for adaptation, nutrition, and women and youth."
"This multi-country project is the first of its kind in the region, which has been launched at a time when climate change has emerged as a major threat to the agricultural landscape," said Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, Secretary General of SAARC.
"Given what is at stake, the SAARC Agriculture Centre has taken this far-reaching initiative to promote sustainable and resilient agriculture intensification in South Asia."
Although several agricultural policies have been implemented across South Asian countries, there is a lack of special consideration on climate change adaptation and mitigation. While there are National Adaptation Plans for Action (NAPA) for agricultural development, in the absence of evidence-based strategic investment plans they are often not put into action.

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