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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid