News / Asia

UN Urges International Cooperation on Asia's Rising Food Prices

A worker carries a plate of food to be delivered to a customer in Indonesia, Jan. 28, 2011. Indonesia will suspend import duties on rice, soybeans and wheat as part of government efforts to fight inflation as Asian countries grapple with escalating food c
A worker carries a plate of food to be delivered to a customer in Indonesia, Jan. 28, 2011. Indonesia will suspend import duties on rice, soybeans and wheat as part of government efforts to fight inflation as Asian countries grapple with escalating food c

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for international cooperation to address rising food prices in Asia. The FAO says the cost of some staples has reached an all-time high and that measures are needed to protect the poor and prevent prices from getting out of control.

United Nations data show the cost of food in February reached the highest ever recorded.

Wednesday in Bangkok, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said in Asia the retail price of rice, the major staple, rose in Bangladesh by 33 percent from last year and in China and Indonesia by 23 percent.

A woman waits in line to buy subsidized rice in Bangladesh.
A woman waits in line to buy subsidized rice in Bangladesh.

Representatives from 20 Asian countries, international organizations, the United States, and Japan gathered in Bangkok Wednesday to address rising food prices.

The two-day conference is the first of a series the FAO is organizing around the world to address food security.

Rising costs

The delegates heard that rice costs are likely to stabilize this year because the region’s major producers, Thailand and Vietnam, are having good harvests. But FAO officials warn that rising fuel prices could push costs up further.

Hiroyuki Konuma, the FAO's representative for Asia and the Pacific, says that Asia’s poor, who spend up to 70 percent of their incomes on food, are the worst affected by inflation.  

"You will recall that combination of food price and economic crisis of 2008, 2009 pushed an additional over 100 million into chronic hunger," he says. "We are experiencing a potential risk of similar setback at moment due to recent high and volatile food prices."

Stockpiling

Food price increases in 2007 and 2008 led some countries in the region to stockpile food and temporarily ban grain exports. The price of rice quickly doubled.

The United States ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome, Ertharin Cousin,says that crisis was caused almost entirely by export restrictions and panic buying, which governments must avoid.

"In the short term, countries can reduce the risks from food price spikes by increasing transparency and sharing information on stocks and production, abstaining from export bans and using quotas and taxes sparingly, avoiding panic buying and hoarding, reducing import taxes, and putting in place targeted safety nets for the most vulnerable," Cousin says.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, and South Korea this year are establishing a strategic rice reserve for emergencies.

And the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation says it has doubled its food reserves since last year and plans to open a regional seed bank.

Reaction in Asia

Javed Hussain Mir, a regional director at the Asian Development Bank, says so far only Asian countries have responded aggressively to rising food prices.

"But, as we are increasingly experiencing with these prices, arresting domestic food inflation with lasting solutions requires that, more than ever, that the collective efforts of everyone involved in the local and international food supply chains are brought to bear on the process," he says.

To prevent price spikes in the long-term, the FAO’s Konuma says governments and multilateral organizations must increase investment in agriculture and food production, which, he points out, has been neglected.

Konuma says the proportion of development assistance spent on agriculture declined from 20 percent in the 1980s to five percent today, and that national budgets for rural development have followed a similar trend.  

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid