Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad has urged the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to expedite joint efforts to avert water scarcity, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges in the region.

He was addressing the concluding session of Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asian held at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. He said that water scarcity threat loomed large, resulting in low agricultural production. He said population is increasing with large pace whereas natural resources and agricultural land were diminishing. He said that the country was running through difficult time in term of food security, energy and water issue. Keeping in view, the USAID in collaboration with the HEC was setting up three centres for advanced studies in the areas, he said.

“The Centre in Food Security is being established at the UAF. The country was having seven agricultural universities. These varsities should set up a consortium for joint efforts to ensure food security,” he said.

UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the country was placed in the ‘red zone’ in term of per capita water availability. The per capita water availability has deceased manifold as it is only 1,000 cubic metre which was 5,200 cubic metre in 1947, he said.

He added that rational use of water in the country is needed. He said that malnutrition was affecting 40 percent of the children. “We have to take measure to end the malnutrition from the region. He said that we have to shift our focus from green revolution to ever-green revolution,” he said.

India scientist Dr MS Swaminathan said the agricultural development and technology transfer would improve lives and livelihoods of rural communities. He called for collaboration in the areas of nutrition, agricultural and food. He said that post harvest losses must be minimised for increasing agricultural productivity.

Faisalabad Commissioner Sardar Akram Javed said that adoption of latest agricultural practices will help face the challenge of food insecurity. He also stressed need for making rational use of water.

PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi Vice Chancellor Dr Rai Niaz called for creating proper environment, educating the farming community and provision of latest technology. He said that low per acre production was a matter of grave concern. National Institute of Food Sciences and Science Technology DG Dr Masood Sadiq Butt said that the meeting was meant to collaborate among the scientists of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Dr Kauser Abdullah Malik from FC College Lahore, MPA Najma Afzal, MPA Surayia Azeem, MPA Ilyas Ansari, Dr Prakash Shetty from Lansa, Dr Syedduzzaman from Lansa Bangladesh, Haris Gazdar from Lansa Pakistan, Vice Chancellor Agri University Afghanistan Dr Hakimi, Haris Gazdar from Lansa Pakistan, Dr Mahendra Dev, Dr Ajay Parida, Ms RV Bhavani, Dr Prakash Shetty, Dr VP Singh from India and Dr Masood Sadiq Butt were also present.