New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) Nine Asian rice-growing nations including China, India and Pakistan Tuesday signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation in research and prepare a roadmap to boost production in the face of deteriorating soil conditions and other challenges.
The agreement, issued as the Delhi Declaration at the conclusion of the second international ministerial roundtable meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing International Rice Congress being hosted by New Delhi, underlines the concerns of Asian nations on poverty eradication, nutritional security and environmental conservation.
The Delhi Declaration endorsed by India, China, Pakistan, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, commits the nine nations to form a task force under the umbrella of the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with representatives from all countries.
The task force would have the responsibility of preparing the roadmap for boosting rice production across the Asian region.
The declaration acknowledges the plight of farmers who have to 'produce more rice at less cost in a deteriorating environment'.
Agriculture scientists stressed that inadequate and unbalanced nutrient input is the major reason for decline in the health of soil and lower than expected productivity in large parts of India and other countries.
'This is not restricted to rice alone but is also the case with other crops,' said Mahabub Hossain of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Soil scientists at the meet underlined that indiscriminate use of nitrogen fertiliser aggravates soil fertility, depleting and reducing nutrient use efficiency and causes poor quality of produce.