News / Asia

Hunger in Focus: 3 Questions: Hunger and the Financial Crisis

Hunger in Focus: 3 Questions: Hunger and the Financial Crisis
Hunger in Focus: 3 Questions: Hunger and the Financial Crisis
Les Carpenter

World Food Day is Saturday, October 16 and there have been numerous stories about the large number of hungry people in the world.  There have been estimates that as many as a hundred million more people were pushed into hunger by the recent global financial crisis and its accompanying energy and food price spikes.  But, in Asia, the financial crisis was less harmful than in other parts of the world.  We spoke with Homi Kharas, senior fellow and director for the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution who told us that that's because Asia coped rather well with the recession and is recovering faster.

Despite the improving economy in much of Asia, why are there are still so many hungry people?

Although the growth rate that is being registered across Asia is impressive, these are, at the end of the day, very large and still quite poor countries.  You know, when one talks about Asia it's important to remember that there is a huge diversity in the experiences of countries and a huge diversity of the experiences within countries.  In India, for example, people who live in cities are doing rather well, jobs are being created, wages are going up, but those who live in the countryside and that's probably still a majority of Indians, are facing much slower growth.

It would be similar, I would assume, in say, Bangladesh?

This would also be true across Asia.  It is the urban industrial sectors, both manufacturing and now to a great extent, service sectors where jobs are being created.  That said, many rural families in Asia are still benefitting from this because there is more and more migration from rural areas to cities and correspondingly larger and larger reflows of remittance money back from those family members back to the rest of the households who are still living in rural areas.

Urbanization helps people purchase food; there is a growing decrease in the number of small farms which produce much of a country's foodstuffs.  Isn't that one of the problems of the future?

I think that at the moment land productivity and labor productivity in agriculture in Asia continues to rise.  So, absolute production of food in Asia is probably still on the increase.  Of course, there are specific circumstances, as with these terrible floods in Pakistan where you have significant amounts of crops that were destroyed.  But, by and large agricultural output is rising, thanks to better productivity.  There is still a big gap between the average productivity of farmers and what the potential is in Asia and the scope for productivity increases for all farmers remains enormous.  Sometimes that happens by consolidating their land holdings with others in the move towards a larger farm size.  But, a great deal of it happens just by investing in better irrigation, better farming techniques, improved seeds, improved use of fertilizer, by which I don't just mean more fertilizer, but better use of fertilizer.  The really big issues for agriculture in Asia, I think at the moment stem from climate change which is potentially affecting some of the big rice producing areas, in Vietnam, in the Mekong.  Water is a major issue all across India, all across China.  Without water we will not have the same kind of agricultural productivity increases as we've seen recently.  So, this combination of climate change and the growing depletion of water resources really do pose a serious long-term challenge for Asia and that, I think, should be something that policy makers should focus on.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More