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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid