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Stating that climate change and depleting natural resources are affecting food security across the globe, Food Minister K V Thomas today said there was a need to step up investment in the farm sector in South Asia. India has a challenge to feed estimated 1.3 billion population by 2018, he said, adding the government is focusing on tapping the agriculture potential in eastern region. South Asian countries -- Afghanistan, Bangaladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- account for 34% of Asia's population. "Coming to South Asian region, the agriculture sector is confronted with various problems.
The need of the hour is increased investment, policy reforms, innovations in agro-ecology to keep with challenging times," he said at an event organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) here.Stating that regional cooperation can bring in buoyancy in agriculture production, he suggested that the below sea-level farming practiced in Kuttanad in Kerala would interest countries like Malaysia, Bangladesh and Maldives. Being the most populous region, South Asia naturally has a high stake in global efforts in confronting global hunger and malnutrition, he added. On India's food security initiatives, Thomas said the government has moved the National Food Security Bill in Parliament to replace the ordinance. The bill seeks to provide legal right on adequate quantity of subsidised foodgrains to 67% of the population. It also aims to provide food and nutritional security, he added.