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IFAD, Saarc and IFPRI join hands to scale-up Climate Smart Agriculture in South Asia

  • Published at 09:12 pm November 24th, 2021
Boro cultivation Kurigram agriculture farm
Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Fostering regional cooperation must for sustainable and resilient agricultural adaptation, say the partners

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Saarc Agriculture Centre (SAC), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Saarc Development Fund (SDF) on Wednesday launched a partnership for “Scaling-up Climate Smart Agriculture in South Asia”.

The central objective of the partnership is to develop evidence-based strategies to collectively tackle the impact of climate change in South Asia, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

Agriculture has historically been risky business, and it is becoming riskier due to climate change and its associated impacts on agri-food systems. According to one estimate, the region could lose between 10-50% 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% of the population in South Asia, said the release.

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.

According to the release, the partnership will 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 agreement will strengthen IFAD’s partnership with Saarc to work together on improving food security and to benefit smallholder agriculture in the region,” said Abdelkarim Sma, the lead regional economist at 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.”

The consortium kicked-off with an initial pilot investment of about $3.1 million provided by IFAD, SAC, IFPRI and SDF, said the release. The partner organizations believe that the size of investment will grow in the coming years.

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.

“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, the 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.”

“This agreement provides us a platform for collaborative efforts to generate evidence-based policy solutions that can accelerate climate-resilient and sustainable food supply in South Asia,” said Shahidur Rashid, the director of IFPRI-South Asia.

The consortium will foster partnership and cooperation to provide support on accelerating the identification and scaling-up of viable CSA interventions through national policies and programs in South Asia, and setting-up effective and efficient mechanisms for knowledge sharing, policy dialogue, and cooperation in R&D programs among Saarc countries on CSA.

On Wednesday, the project was officially launched at an event organized in BARC Complex. The event also highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in promoting sustainable and resilient agricultural intensification in South Asia.

“We hope that our collective support will augment the continuous efforts of all the Member States towards enhancing the adaptive capacity of especially our smallholder farmers against the impacts of climate change,” said Anuj Goel, the officer-In-charge of Saarc Development Fund and Director, Social Window.

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