News / Asia

    Hunger in Focus: Lower Food Costs Help Lower World Hunger

    In this photo released by the World Food Program, North Korean children eat a lunch, including rice provided by the U.N. World Food Program.
    In this photo released by the World Food Program, North Korean children eat a lunch, including rice provided by the U.N. World Food Program.

    Only in recent history have entire societies been able to rise above chronic hunger and the constant threat of famine.  Even with that success, many countries in Africa and South Asia continue to struggle with the problem.  Technological advancements have helped to improve agriculture production.

    But the cost of food remains perhaps the biggest obstacle to feeding the hungry.  The United Nations says the global population is projected to increase by 47-percent over a 50-year period, from 6.1 billion in 2000 to 8.9 billion in 2050.

    Joachim von Braun, the director of the Center for Development Research at University of Bonn, says with an increased demand for food, and increased prices.  "Each year, except one year, the international food price has been higher than the year before," he said.  "So, the world food situation has become stressed.  And, the poor of the world in Asia and Africa have been particularly adversely affected."

    "On this World Food Day (Saturday, October 16), we should remember that a billion people are undernourished, and that 60-percent of that one-billion live in Asia, and the Asian food problem is predominantly also a problem of undernourishment of children," von Braun said.

    The recent global economic downturn has affected nearly every market, including food.  The instability on food prices in many parts of the world has complicated addressing hunger issues.  Katsuji Matsunami is an advisor/practice leader on Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development with the Asian Development Bank's Regional Sustainable Development Department.

    "In the short term, market volatility goes on," Matsunami said.  "And, there is a very strong likelihood that some unexpected volatility and a price hike could happen.  In long term, as we all know the population keeps on increasing.  And, the dietary habits, or the consumer demands for food, is also changing," he said.

    Matsunami said achieving the goal of growing more food is not simple and requires continuous investment.  "The world needs to produce more food, more feed and more fuel because of the climate change concerns," he said.  "So, agriculture has to produce more.  But, the resources needed to do that is limited, particularly water.  And, investment needed for agriculture modernization is not flowing in as we hoped for."

    While the global economic slowdown has had an impact on investment in agriculture, Joachim von Braun says there are some recent developments which give hope to improving world hunger.

    "In the last three years, good things have happened.  Developing countries have invested more in agriculture and have put agriculture higher on the agenda," he said.  "India, for instance, has launched, two years ago, a $6-billion program.  China has invested a lot more.  And, at least 20 countries in Africa have done so, too.  And, the development community, such as the United States with their Feed the Future program (through USAID), have also reactivated investment in agriculture with a focus on small farmers," said von Braun.

    Katsuji Matsunami hopes that programs can be expanded to regional discussions and plans, especially in Asia.

    "Can the ASEAN, plus three countries, come to sit down at the table and openly talk about the prospects of rice.  Who might need rice, how much, and who might have a marketable surplus of rice?  This kind of talk is not going on.  These are all bilateral, government to government.  And, we are asking, could this be possible to make it into the regional framework?" said Matsunami.

    He says the regional approach to providing enough food is critical, as urban areas continue to grow at astonishing rates in Asia.  "Governments will have to make (it so) that these large numbers of small farmers will have some means to live," Matsunami added.

    "At the same time, there are increasing populations, and the major part of it, poorer still, in cities, and that they need cheap food.  So, on one hand, they have to make sure the farmers get a proper price, and high enough so that farmers are interested and (are) able to survive out of rice production.  But, by bringing rice in to the consumer place, that should be cheap enough for the poor consumers to buy," he said.

    The shortage of food has been linked to other needs such as better infrastructure, water and technology, which can help lower production costs and bring more food to the market at lower prices, while maintaining incomes for farmers.

    Joachim von Braun says government projects have shown tangible results in parts of Asia.  "Vietnam has been particularly successful in addressing hunger and food and nutrition insecurity.  It is really, next to China, a shining example of progress in fighting hunger," he said.

    Von Braun has suggested two global collective actions to help prevent another food price crisis as seen in 2007-2008.  He says a small physical food reserve should be established to facilitate a smooth response to food emergencies.  Second, an innovative virtual reserve should be set up to help prevent market price spikes.


    Jim Stevenson

    For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.