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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
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 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.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid