The Heads of the States or governments established the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on the 8th day of December 1985. Seven south Asian Nations, namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the founder members of the Regional Association. Later Afghanistan became the eighth member country in 2007.
SAARC Agriculture Centre (renamed in April 2007 from SAARC Agricultural Information Centre, SAIC) is the first regional Centre established by the SAARC. The Centre started functioning in 1988 with a mandate for information management, primarily in the field of agriculture and allied discipline.
With the passage of time, the Centre braced up broader challenges to make regional cooperation more responsive to the needs of the stakeholders and farming communities as South Asia heads for a new order of agricultural transformation. The SAARC Agriculture Centre thus has been given an enhanced mandate for agricultural research and development, policy planning, and knowledge management.
Promotion of agricultural Research and Development (R&D) as well as technology dissemination initiatives for sustainable agricultural development and poverty alleviation in the region.
- To strengthen agricultural research and accelerate technology transfer through establishing regional networks on agricultural and allied disciplines, particularly among agricultural research and extension institutes, professionals, policy planners and stakeholders.
- To provide inputs for developing regional policies, strategies, projects, primarily through developing networks in crop, livestock and fisheries sectors; and for efficient management of soil, water and other natural resources.
- To promote new and innovative techniques and systems in agriculture, including production, post-harvest and food processing.
- To facilitate collaborative studies, inter alia, on agricultural marketing and distribution systems, harmonization of agricultural related standards, promotion of agricultural trade, food security, risks and disaster management in agriculture.
- To facilitate and undertake collaborative capacity building programmes in agriculture and allied sectors with focus on skill development and research on frontier areas.
- To collate and disseminate information for agricultural advancement in the region.
The Centre is manned with regionally regionally recruited Professionals and General Services Staff (GSS) from the host country. These personnel support programme planning and implementation.
The Centre is supported directly by the member states through their annual financial contributions based on the annual budget. In implementing the programme, the Centre aims to maintain the balance of expenditure between institutional cost and programme cost. The program and institutional costs are shared by the member states according to the SAARC proportion formula.
The Government of Bangladesh provides the capital cost including infrastructure.
The Centre institutionalizes “Participatory need-based programme building through consultations”. The process involves participation of stakeholders at country levels as well as synthesis and vetting at the experts level as well as synthesis and vetting at the experts level for programme development. The SAARC Technical Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (TCARD) also provides broad guidelines of programmes. The proposals are reviewed during the Governing Board (GB) Meeting for further direction.
The annual programme proposals recommended by the Governing Board are further reviewed by the SAARC programming Committee and subsequently approved by the Standing Committee. The Council of Ministers of the Member States gives concurrence prior to the convening of the SAARC Summit.
- Providing policy inputs to the SAARC higher authorities for consideration particularly at the ministerial level meeting on agriculture.
- Promoting outreach programmes through www.saarcagri.org to provide timely, relevant and universal access to information and knowledge resources to all agricultural practitioners of member states.
- Production of regular publication (newsletters, bulletins, booklet, journal, etc.)
- Production of technical publications from priority programmes (directories, statistical bulletins, bibliographies, databases, union catalogue, report, workshop proceedings, etc.)
- Audio-visual media production and reproduction.
- Providing inputs for developing regional policies and strategies.
- Providing and automated library services and on-line services.
- Hosting of workshops, seminars, symposium consultation and human resources development programmes and carrying out in-house research and publications on thrust areas of agriculture/
- Establishing institutional linkages with relevant institutions.
- Undertaking activities leading to exchange of the best practices for adaptation and/or absorption; time-bound short and medium terms projects and programmes; and enhancing capacities of the agricultural communities of the SAARC countries.
- Providing literature services through CD-ROM databases.
- Nearly 50% of 1.5 billion people in the region live below proverty line, predominant in rural areas. On one hand, population is rising and on the other, the cultivated land area is decreasing.
- Food Security at the back drop of climate change.
- Ensuring safefood against agro – chemicals.
- Integration and application of new science in various products, processes and services for strengthening food, health and livelihood systems.
- A spirited extension work to reduce yield gaps between the research field and the farmer’s field with a blend of traditional knowledge and wisdom with modern technologies.
- Skill enhancement of agro – entre preneurship.
- Dissemination of new and sustainable technology using modern information and communication technologies (ICT) to accelerate the technology transfer process.
- Minimizing postharvest losses; improvement in agro-processing; value addition; efficient utilization of crop residues and bi-products; and improvement in marketing facilities of agricultural products.
- Putting research emphasis on sustainable management of natural resources.
- Forging Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) in agricultural technology.
The Centre’s services and products are aimed to enhance the performances of scientists, extensionists, technologiests, etc. through support in research and development in agriculture and provide inputs for developing regional policies, strategies and programmes.
The Centre, so far has produced the following documents/Products:
The Centre also produced and dubbed 44 videos from the region. The centre has more than one hundred videos in its collection for use by professionals and practitioners. The Centre maintains a number of databases on agriculture sciences and related fields.