Three billion Asians face food crisis threat: research

October 28, 2008

( -- The escalating cost of rice and other foodstuffs across Asia could cause the reversal of policy reforms, social unrest and deepening poverty for over 3 billion Asians – according to new research.

A team of experts from The University of Manchester, University of Delhi and the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development say the rising costs of basic Asian staples of rice and wheat are a root cause of lower economic growth and higher income inequality.

The researchers reaffirm a recent OECD-FAO report which argues that the surge in food and fuel prices is likely to persist into the next decade.

“Food price inflation is the most regressive of all taxes and is causing devastation across the whole continent of Asia,” said Dr Katsushi Imai from the University of Manchester’s Brooks World Poverty Institute.

“Rising food prices have played an important role in the acceleration of inflation across Asia and the Pacific region during 2007, and especially during the early months of 2008.

“This has important effects on people’s lives in terms of basic subsistence and it’s the poorest, the landless and women who suffer the most.

“The most extreme effect is on malnutrition: according to new World Bank figures, the malnourished will increase by 44 million to 967 million people by the end of 2008 – and that is largely down to food price inflation.”

The team say rising global per capita incomes, increasing demand for meat and dairy products and developing food markets have resulted in global demand outpacing domestic production capacity.

“Increasing protectionism has also contributed to this increasingly worrying food inflation,” he adds.

“In response to spiraling prices, many Asian countries resort to protective measures without realizing that such measures would force more drastic adjustments and higher prices in global markets.

“A vicious circle of spiraling food prices has been sustained by policies designed to protect domestic consumers but likely to deepen the food crisis.”

The team also recommend:

-- A review of World Trade Organisation rules on trade barriers.

-- A re-examination of subsidies to and tariff protection of biofuel production in light of their effects on food security.

-- Regional procurement of food aid by Government aid agencies to reduce transportation costs and boost local agricultural markets.

Provided by University of Manchester

Explore further: Levelling food price volatility, while supporting the poor

Related Stories

Levelling food price volatility, while supporting the poor

October 21, 2016

Food crises leave the poor in desperation. To ameliorate the effects of weather and climate disasters, including food price volatility, it is better if governments forget about managing prices and instead care for the poor, ...

Can we eat our way to a healthier future?

October 18, 2016

What we are putting in our mouths and on our plates is globally gaining recognition as the key to unlocking a healthier, more sustainable, and fairer future. What we eat, how we're eating it and the journey that it takes ...

Report provides options for organic soybean growers

October 21, 2016

Although soybeans are one of the most widely grown crops in the U.S., few soybean farmers are using organic practices. A new University of Illinois report details organic products and practices to combat pathogens and insect ...

Recommended for you

Important ancient papyrus seized from looters in Israel

October 27, 2016

(—Eitan Klein, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, has announced that an important papyrus document dated to 2,700 years ago has been seized from a group of Palestinian looters who reportedly ...

Ancient parrot fossil found in Siberia

October 26, 2016

(—A Russian paleontologist has discovered a parrot fossil uncovered in Siberia several years ago—the first evidence of parrots living in Asia. In his paper published in Biology Letters, Nikita Zelenkov describes ...

Ancient burials suggestive of blood feuds

October 24, 2016

There is significant variation in how different cultures over time have dealt with the dead. Yet, at a very basic level, funerals in the Sonoran Desert thousands of years ago were similar to what they are today. Bodies of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.