* Sri Lanka to set up SAARC Seed Bank

Nov 17, Colombo: As agreed at the recently held 17th SAARC Summit in the Maldives, Sri Lanka will set up a ‘SAARC Seed Bank’ to boost agriculture production in the region.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers yesterday approved a proposal made by the Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to establish the SAARC Seed Bank in Sri Lanka.

At the SAARC Summit held last week, the eight-member association signed an agreement to establish the SAARC Seed Bank to help farmers get quality seeds from the reserve in case of a shortage due to natural calamities.

The objectives of setting up of the Seed Bank, as agreed upon by SAARC countries, are to provide regional support to national seed security efforts, address regional seed shortages through collective actions and foster inter-country partnership.

Further the measure aims to increase Seed Replacement Rate with appropriate varieties at a faster rate as far as possible so that the use of quality seeds for crop production can be ensured.

The entity will act as a Regional Seed Security reserve for the Member States.

Each member country is expected to contribute one percent of their total seed requirement to the Bank as reserve.

The Seed Bank will help the member countries to make available quality seeds, exchange seeds and plant genetic resources and share practices, technologies and techniques among them to produce quality seeds.

Under the agreement, all member countries will have enough stocks of quality seeds, and in case of calamities, one member can borrow from the other.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed the establishment of a seed bank at the 16th SAARC Summit held in Thimpu, Bhutan, in 2010.

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