South Asia is home to nearly 1.74 billion people as estimated in 2015 and is projected to grow to 2.04 billion in 2030 and 2.29 billion in 2050 (United Nations, 2017). Despite the decline in the population growth, additional 300 million people will be added to the region by 2030, posing a serious challenge to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Major challenges in agricultural research and development (R&D) are lack to focus on technology for productivity improvement and value chain efficiency followed by low investments in research including human resource and infrastructure. Climate resilience, environmental sustainability, enhanced biodiversity use and conservation, adoption of modern tools and technologies for productivity enhancement, strengthening markets, value chain and stability of food supply are key priorities towards achieving targets of the SDGs.
Long-term perspective plan along with strategic vision is paramount to move forward for achieving the set forth objectives of the organization. Indeed, SAARC Agriculture Centre has SAARC Agriculture Vision 2020, formulated in 2013 till 2020 (for 7 years), which is in a terminal phase. In order to guide the Centre in a right direction addressing concurrent issues, formulating SAARC Agriculture Vision– 2030 encompassing strategic long-term plan along with logical matrix consisting of vision, missions, outcomes, purpose, program is imperative. The Fourth Meeting of SAARC Agriculture Ministers (Thimphu, 27 June 2019) directed the SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC) to prepare the draft SAARC Agriculture Vision-2030. Hence, SAC organized a virtual meeting on 14-15 December 2020 to formulate SAARC Agriculture Vision 2030 in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), Thailandand the SAARC Member States.
The main objective of the virtual regional consultation meeting is to develop SAARC Agriculture Vision 2030 for agriculture transformation that will guide the SAARC Agriculture Centre for 10 years.
There were about 40 participants from Eight Member States (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), experts from APAARI, experts from SAC, academicians, experts from development partners, and researchers and development activists. The program was arranged in such a way that some keynote speakers had presented their keynote speech on the overall agriculture and associated discipline, challenges and opportunities and needs of long-term vision to be focused by the SAARC Agriculture Centre, Dhaka. Technical team had presented a framework of the SAARC Agriculture Vision 2030; National Focal Point Experts made their presentation on National issues, challenges, prospective and existing vision of the particular countries. These presentations were followed by group work in to five strategic objective areas/ thematic areas.
Finally, this virtual program was able to finalized the vision statements, mission statements, goal statements, strategic objective areas, and associated focused programs to be included in the SAARC Agriculture Vision 2030.