Dhaka, August 16:

The setting up of a food bank to meet exigencies caused by natural disasters in the region will be discussed by officials of eight South Asian countries at a conclave in Kathmandu

mid-October, a Dhaka daily said quoting officials.

All members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), except newly inducted Afghanistan, have ratified an agreement on the establishment of the food bank in the Colombo summit earlier this month to ensure food security of the region. A special meeting of the eight agriculture ministers will take place in November in New Delhi for short and mid-term strategies and projects.

Foreign ministry officials here said as a prelude to the ministerial meeting, the first meeting of the SAARC food bank board would be held in Kathamndu on October 15-16.

Dhaka has taken the initiative after being hit by two rounds of floods and landslides and

a massive cyclone last year during each of which it faced serious food shortages.

The SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu on August 12 requested the respective foreign ministries of the member nations to nominate members for the board meeting. Officials said the first meeting on the SAARC food bank would touch upon all the technical issues on food security on short and long term basis.

The official said apart from taking measures to ensure food security during emergency the focus would be put on attracting investments for the agriculture and agro-based industries.