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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid