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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs