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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid