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SAARC Agriculture Centre

The SAARC regional training workshop on Earth observation and climate data analysis for agricultural drought monitoring in South Asia was organized in Islamabad, Pakistan. Dr. Mohammad Faisal Director General South Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan, formally launched the system during the opening ceremony of SAARC Regional Training program held from 29 July to 01 August 2019.

The officials from SAARC Member States are attending a four-day training workshop jointly organized by SAARC Agriculture Center (SAC), International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in Islamabad. The training aimed for meteorological, agriculture and climate scientists, delves on the techniques of data development and analysis tailored for use in drought monitoring to understand drought and its implications better, and minimize the impacts of drought in the region.

Mr. Muhammad Riaz, Director General, Pakistan Meteorological Department highlighted the role of PMD in generating timely advisory on extreme climate events particularly on flood and droughts in the country. He emphasized on close engagement with focal institutions to yield best returns of our investment.

Senior Program Specialist of SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC) and coordinator of the program, Dr Pradyumna Raj Pandey shared that the training would enable participants to understand how satellite data, weather forecast and early warning systems can help understand and manage droughts. He said, “This is the second joint training programme by SAC and ICIMOD in this year. We hope that this training will foster further programs to promote institutional capacities in generating data products related to drought”.

Speaking about the system’s capabilities, ICIMOD’s Programme Manager Dr Ghulam Rasul shared that the system provided multiple indices for droughts and seasonal weather outlooks at the national and regional levels, and baselines on crop type maps, and farming practices calendars valid at the district level. He said, “As a regional knowledge Centre, ICIMOD has been promoting the use of Earth Observation information for evidence-based decision-making through applications and information systems to provide timely and accurate information.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali, Director General, National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), Pakistan expressed that this regional training will provide excellent means in achieving these goals. Mr. M. Idrees Mahsud, Member Disaster Risk Reduction, National Disaster Management Authority highlighted the learning’s of NDMA from past catastrophic events and expressed that now NDMA Pakistan has well-structured Disaster Risk Reduction plan and better preparedness.

Hon. Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, Member Climate Change & Food Security, Planning Commission, Government of Pakistan was the chief guest of the closing ceremony. He appreciated the efforts made by SAC, ICIMOD, PARC and other collaborating institutions for such type of practical and need based training program conducted in Pakistan.  Mr. Birendra Bajrachrya, Programme Coordinator, ICIMOD welcomed the guests and participants of the programs. He expressed his gratitude to SAC, PARC and other collaborating institutions for their supports.  Dr Mir Matin, Theme Leader Ge-spatial Sciences from ICIMOD highlighted the essence of the four days training. Likewise, among the participants Ms. A.B.Abeysekara, Assistant Director of Agriculture (Research), Sri Lanka expressed her gratitude to SAC and ICIMOD for organize such type of practical and technical training program for the SAARC participants. Dr Pradyumna Raj Pandey, Senior Program Specialist, SAC expressed sincere thanks to all participants from the Member States of SAARC, local participants, officials of PARC and ICIMOD for their significant contributions to make a successful and fruitful program.

All together 25 participants from SAARC Member States, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating from the Member States of SAARC. Besides, more than 15 participants from national, state-level organizations from Pakistan attended the training.