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Bangladesh approves proposal for regional food bank

By Nazrul Islam Dhaka, Mar 18 (ANI): Bangladesh's interim government has approved a proposal for setting up of a regional food reserve, SAARC Food Bank, to meet the growing pressure on food and nutrition security of more than 150 crore people of the region. Dhaka's approval came at the regular meeting of the council of advisers to the interim administration, headed by Fakhruddin Ahmed on Saturday. Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the chief adviser's press secretary, Syed Fahim Munaim, said the foreign ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) were likely to finalise the deal towards the establishment of the food reserve during their pre-summit meeting in New Delhi early next month. The 14th SAARC summit is scheduled to be held on April 3-4 in the Indian capital, New Delhi. "The food bank will come in aid to the member states to meet the emergency situation during unexpected shortage of food due to natural calamities or any other reasons," Munaim said. Once the deal is finalised, the food bank will start initially with reserve of 241,580 tonnes of food grain, which would gradually be increased. Bangladesh committed contribution of 40,000 tonnes of food grain to the bank. According to the proposal, India will contribute the highest 153, 200 tonnes of food grains while Pakistan and Bangladesh 40,000 tonnes each, Sri Lanka and Nepal 4,000 tonnes each, Maldives 200 tonnes and Bhutan 180 tonnes. SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu will play the role of the secretariat of the Board of the food bank until it establishes an independent one. The idea of establishing regional food reserve was first mooted at the third summit in a different form. The concept paper was prepared during the 12th summit and it was formalised in the last summit held in Dhaka. The heads of the states or governments agreed to examine the proposal, piloted by India, to establish the regional food bank. The SAARC technical committee finalised its report on the proposal on March 7. (ANI)

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