South Asian states to intervene for SAARC ‘food security’ despite policy conflicts

July 30, 2008 (LBO) – A summit meeting of South Asian leaders this weekend is placing ‘food security’ high on its agenda with promises of more state intervention, officials said, despite recent state meddling that backfired on the region’s poor and farmers. Sri Lanka’s international trade minister G L Peiris told reporters that the time has come for more state intervention to ensure that the people of the region got the benefits of a 23-year old regional grouping known as the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation or SAARC.

Foreign secretaries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are hammering together a ‘Colombo declaration’ on food security to be adopted at a summit meeting of the region’s leaders to be held this weekend.

Intervention

“It is not enough that we have high GDP (gross domestic product) growth but people must feel tangible benefits,” Peiris told reporters after the first day’s meeting of foreign secretaries.

“For that we need more intervention.”

Peiris said the work of a Nobel Prize winning Indian economist Amartya Sen showed that famines for instance were created through a problem of distribution rather than actual shortages of food, which justified inte