PM proposes FAO to establish International Seed Bank

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Dhaka, Mar 13: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today proposed the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to set up an International Seed Bank.

“Establish an International Seed Bank, which may have the potential to support evading food crisis at any natural disasters over the centuries,” she said.

The prime minister made the appeal as FAO Director General (DG) Qu Dongyu called on her at the latter’s official Ganabhaban residence here.

She also stressed the need for considering the experience of the Netherlands as an example to do so.

She told Dongyu to form a consolidated fund for taking projects on digitization and innovation, where Bangladesh will remain ready to contribute.

At the meeting, the FAO director general invited the prime minister to participate in the World Food Forum to be held from October 3-7, this year in Rome, Italy as a plenary speaker, a release of PM’s Press Wing said.

He also reiterated his commitment to provide ceaseless support of his organisation in the development endeavors of Bangladesh’s agriculture sector.

He reassured the prime minister of continuing the existing cooperation with a more robust, innovative, and digital approach.

Expressing her deep concern on reducing cultivable land in CVF (Climate Vulnerable Forum) countries, in particular the SIDS (Small Island Development States, she suggested Dongyu for addressing the issue in a more inclusive and sustainable manner.

The premier reiterated that she has been working to transform the country into a hunger-and-poverty-free one where people will get a better life.

Sheikh Hasina recalled her participation in the World Food Summit in November 1996, just after forming her government, while Bangladesh was suffering from a severe food shortage.

She mentioned that after just two years since then, Bangladesh had become self-reliant in food production under her government’s relentless efforts.

The premier restated that achieving food security was her first priority as the country was facing tremendous challenges with a huge population and scarcity of cultivable land.

She praised that scientists and researchers of Bangladesh are doing a great job in the development of varieties of species that are adapted to climatic changes- salt, drought, water logging, etc.

After achieving food security, she said that her government is now focusing on ensuring nutrition for all.

She put emphasis on food storage and food processing to tackle any imminent disaster like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The FAO director general expressed deep satisfaction with the successful hosting of the 36th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and Pacific (APRC) in Dhaka.

He commended Sheikh Hasina’s visionary leadership in early achieving of food security in all forms of food- cereals, vegetables, animal protein, etc.

He also appreciated the prime minister’s strong political support to produce more and more food and cash crops.

He also acknowledged Sheikh Hasina’s development strategy as well as her pioneering role in women’s empowerment, which is well appreciated in the international sphere.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Ambassador-at-large Mohammad Ziauddin, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus, Agriculture Secretary Md. Sayedul Islam, Bangladesh Ambassador to Rome Md. Shameem Ahsan, and PM’s Assistant Press Secretary A B M Sarwer-E-Alom Sarker were present from Bangladesh site during the meeting.

Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, FAO HQ (Rome), Jong-Jin Kim, Assistant Director General, FAO Regional Office, Bangkok, and Robert D Simpson, FAO Representative in Dhaka were also present.