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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora