IPS Researchers Discuss Policy Challenges for South Asia’s Agriculture Sector at PRIME Workshop

12– 16 June 2023

At the workshop on ‘Policy-Research Interface Mediation and Enabling (PRIME): Climate Adaptation and Inclusive Development in the Agricultural Sector for South Asia’ held from 12-16 June 2023 in Kathmandu, Nepal, IPS Research Fellows Dr Manoj Thibbotuwawa and Dr Asanka Wijesinghe shared their insights on key policy challenges faced by the agriculture sector in South Asian countries. The workshop, jointly organised by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ABDI), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Queensland University of Technology, aimed to enhance capacity in the policy-research interface for agricultural and rural economic transformation in South Asia, with a focus on climate adaptation for inclusive development.

During the event, Dr Manoj Thibbotuwawa highlighted that even though South Asian countries have undergone a rapid transition in the sectoral composition of the GDP, there is a serious misalignment between the agricultural labour force and the share of the agriculture sector in GDP. He stressed the importance of addressing food loss and waste mitigation in the region and discussed an ongoing research project supported by the Food Loss Research Programme. The project focuses on developing food loss reduction pathways through smart business practices in mango and tomato value chains in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Dr Asanka Wijesinghe discussed the significance of mainstreaming agricultural policy within the broader economic policies of South Asian countries. He discussed the adverse effects of protectionist trade policies and the political challenges faced by policymakers during the implementation of reforms.

The workshop brought together government officials, think tanks, universities, and research institutes from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Chief Guest at the event was Dr Govinda Prasad Sharma, Secretary Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal. Her Excellency Felicity Volk, Australia’s Ambassador to Nepal, also addressed the gathering.