News / Asia

Experts Warn of Future Asia-Pacific Food Vulnerability

A worker passes a sack of rice to other workers inside a National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse in Taguig City, south of Manila, the Philippines, March 26, 2012.
A worker passes a sack of rice to other workers inside a National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse in Taguig City, south of Manila, the Philippines, March 26, 2012.
Ron Corben
BANGKOK — Drought in the United States and India is leading to higher food prices and has some experts warning Asia Pacific countries to step up investment in agriculture. Asia’s shifting dietary habits require greater imports and are raising fears over future food vulnerability.
 
Across the globe there is an increased focus on the challenge of producing enough food as the global population is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. Scientists said food output must rise by 70 percent to meet demand.
 
While drought in the United States and India has increased prices on some commodities, overall the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said there are still adequate supplies of most key commodities.

Asia drought predicted
 
But the U.K.-based Center for Low Carbon Futures, a network of universities, said in a new report that within 10 years large parts of Asia may face long periods of severe drought. Especially hit will be northern China, India, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan. Other parts of Asia are likely to face longer and wetter monsoon seasons.
 
The threat from global climate change comes as rice and wheat yields in Asia are declining, said Paul Teng, a professor and senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
 
“Just the simple arithmetic tells us that we’re not going to be able to meet the numbers unless significant investments are made to increase productivity under current land scenarios or unless we find more new land for farming or unless we stop using city space for farming,” said Teng.
 
Asia imports almost 70 percent of the world’s soybeans from North and Latin America and around 40 percent of the world’s tradable corn, largely for animal feed.
 
In the United States, corn prices have surged to record highs amid the most severe drought in 50 years with almost 90 percent of the U.S. corn crop in drought-ravaged areas.

Drought and food prices
 
Teng said the U.S. drought and its effects on food prices should be a "wake-up call” for Asia-Pacific countries.

“It should really be a forewarning for countries to want to invest more, [and] shake off the decline that we’ve been seeing for the last almost two decades," said Teng. "There’s a lot of figures to show that the decline in investment in agriculture, because the world basically got complacent.”

Andrew McConville, a communications manager with international agriculture technology company, Syngenta, said the lack of new investment and accessibility to technology to enable farmers to improve productivity has had an impact.
 
“The immediate impact [of a lack of investment] is not necessarily tangible. But over time it has a cumulative impact and at some point we have to pay the piper, so to speak," said McConville. "You really start to see all of these things come together laid over the top of very high prices as well, so you almost had a perfect storm of factors coming together to really point to the challenges that agriculture faces.”
 
Some countries, such as Indonesia, Cambodia and China, are addressing concerns by investing in new land for farming. In Burma, McConville said positive economic reforms can help lift rice output.
 
He said China also has responded to the food worry by investing in food production in Australia and New Zealand.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid