President Mahinda Rajapaksa has stressed that in the prevailing competition between food and fuel, Sri Lanka was firm in the decision that no land that can be used for food will be used for bio-fuel whatever the commercial attraction may be. Addressing the FAO Conference on food security in Rome yesterday President Rajapaksa said it was the belief of Sri Lanka that food for the people should have the highest priority, and not the running of gas-guzzling vehicles.

The SAARC Food Bank is likely to be operational soon with the completion of ratification by the member states, reliable sources said. According to a highly placed source, among the member states of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), so far four -- Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka -- have ratified the declaration for establishment of the proposed SAARC Food Bank. The declaration is now awaiting the ratification by the other SAARC nations.

Fourteen SAARC Summits have been held till date, but the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is yet to take off! While ASEAN and EU are reaping the benefits of a common market, South Asian countries continue to lag behind. Since the start of our liberal economic policies we have been opening up our market to foreign goods and investments, such as China and South East Asia . While we have signed FTA with Thailand , SAFTA is still elusive.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Sunday urged the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to stress on the poverty alleviation and infrastructure development. At a meeting with SAARC General Secretary Dr Shree Kanta Sharma, who reached the PM's official residence at Baluwatar this morning, PM Koirala discussed on the expansion of south Asian assistance. PM Koirala also expressed commitment to extend all kinds of support to the SAARC countries on behalf of Nepal, PM's advisor for foreign affairs Aditya Baral informed.

Agriculture experts at a seminar here on Saturday underlined the need for establishing a common food bank for the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation ( Saarc) member countries to face adverse impact of climate change on food production. They also suggested carrying out more researches to invent more saline, drought and flood tolerant crop varieties and improving early disaster warning system, official news agency BSS reported.

Experts at a seminar yesterday said the agricultural production would decrease significantly in Saarc region in the coming years due to climate change. Developing new varieties of crops tolerant to heat, drought and salinity is a must, otherwise the region would fall into the grip of serious food crisis, they added. The seminar titled 'Climate change and its impacts on agricultural production system in Saarc region' was organised by Saarc Agriculture Centre at the conference hall of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council (Barc) in the city.

This paper draws on recent field work within South Asia and an extensive review of secondary data to examine the dynamics of cross border trade and investment in South Asia, exploring the potential for, and obstacles to, such trade through the lens of a sector that is salient throughout South Asia: textiles and clothing. Despite the growing competitiveness of this sector in the SAARC region, there is very little regional interlinkage within South Asia's textile and clothing industry.

Ata-Ul-Haq is CEO of Green Technology Environmental Corporation, which set up Pakistan's first mega composting plant in Lahore in 2006. He tells Arnab Pratim Dutta that the model adopted for the

The seven members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (saarc) unanimously decided to harmonise their food norms by 2007, at a recent meeting in Kathmandu. Those members not

in the last ten years, exotic diseases affecting the livestock have led to a loss of Rs 500 crore. This was stated by the Union agriculture minister, Nitish Kumar. The diseases - 39 listed so far -