Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Food price inflation causing 'devastation' across Asia

A new study confirms the effect of increasing food prices in Asia. In fact, the authors of this report say it is "devastating" the continent.

Experts from universities in Britain and India, as well as officials from the United Nations authored the report.

They say that rising prices of rice and wheat are slowing the economy of Asia. The rising prices are also increasing the income inequality in the continent. This could cause social unrest and will increase the numbers who are starving by 3 billion people.

India ENews provides the following quotes and stats from the study:

"Food price inflation is the most regressive of all taxes and is causing devastation across the whole continent of Asia," said Katsushi Imai of the University of Manchester's Brooks World Poverty Institute.

"Rising food prices have played an important role in the acceleration of inflation across Asia and the Pacific region during 2007, and especially during the early months of 2008.

"This has important effects on people's lives in terms of basic subsistence and it's the poorest, the landless and women, who suffer the most.'

He said that the most extreme effect is on malnutrition: according to new World Bank figures, the malnourished will increase by 44 million to 967 million people by the end of 2008 - and that is largely down to food price inflation.

The team says rising global per capita incomes, increasing demand for meat and dairy products and developing food markets have resulted in global demand outpacing domestic production capacity.

The team recommended a review of World Trade Organization rules on trade barriers; a re-examination of subsidies and tariff protection of biofuel production in light of their effects on food security; and regional procurement of food aid by government agencies to reduce transportation costs and boost local agricultural markets.

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