KATHMANDU, May 16 2013 (IPS) – With a combined population of over 1.7 billion, which includes some of the world’s poorest but also a sizeable middle class with a growing spending capacity, South Asia is a policymaker’s nightmare. The region’s urban population is set to double by 2030, with India alone adding 90 million city dwellers to its metropolises since 2000. Over 75 percent of South Asia’s residents live in rural areas, with agriculture accounting for 60 percent of the labour force, according to recent statistics released by the World Bank.
South Asia has always been a climatic hot spot. According to Pramod Aggarwal, South Asia principal researcher and regional programme leader for agriculture and food security for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), over 70 percent of the region is prone to drought, 12 percent to floods and eight percent to cyclones.