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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    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 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 A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    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 First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    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.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora