Arable and permanent crops occupy half of the landmass of South Asia (5.1 million km2). In spite of limited land, the South Asian countries have made remarkable progress in food production during the past three decades, transforming the region from a food-deficit to a food sufficient region. This progress is attributed to the developments in agricultural research and effective dissemination of technologies. This has also been possible due to the Green Revolution in South Asia since mid-1960s, involving the development and diffusion of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) especially rice and wheat. Use of increased inputs particularly, irrigation, fertilizers, farm machineries and also policy support are the contributors of the regional food sufficiency. Moreover, the government’s investments in infrastructure, research and extension, minimum support price, policies and strategies have significantly contributed to increased food production and availability. Notwithstanding these achievements, producing adequate food with limited land and providing economic access to food at the household level for ensuring food security would continue to be a major challenge for the region. At the same time, the food consumption pattern has been changing with availability of wider food choices, economic growth and increasing urban population. Such changes in the consumption pattern are likely to influence the crop choice, production, productivity, prices, international trade and environment. This calls for the studies on the changes in the agriculture productivity and future sources of agricultural growth. In the past, agriculture production grew in both vertical and horizontal expansion i.e. area and yield. The future growth has to be essentially through vertical expansion, driven by increase in yields. The long-term trend in the consumption pattern at the household-level demonstrates that per capita consumption of food grains has been declined and the consumption of livestock and horticulture products have been increased in most of the SAARC countries.

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Dr. Sreekanth Attaluri