The Asian Development Bank has warned that high food prices on the continent could push 64 million people in developing countries into extreme poverty, reports the AFP.
On average food prices are up 10% since the beginning of the year with staple prices significantly higher than last year. For example, rice prices have risen by 36.7% since June 2010 in Vietnam, while Kyrgyzstan has seen wheat prices rise 67% during the same time period.
“Left unchecked, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction made in Asia,” Asian Development Bank cheif economist Rhee Changyong said.
The rise in food prices has been linked in part due to extreme weather throughout the world, which has crippled some vital crop regions, including in some cases unprecedented droughts in Russia, China, and the US; floods in Australia and Pakistan; and a severe winter in Europe and parts of the US. Experts say that climate change is likely intensifying such extreme weather events, and causing them to occur with greater frequency.
Rising oil prices and a weakening US dollar are also expected to exacerbate the situation in Asia.
“For poor families in developing Asia, who already spend more than 60% of their income on food, higher food prices further reduce their ability to pay for medical care and their children’s education,” said Rhee.
What does Nature give us? A special Earth Day article
(04/22/2011) There is no question that Earth has been a giving planet. Everything humans have needed to survive, and thrive, was provided by the natural world around us: food, water, medicine, materials for shelter, and even natural cycles such as climate and nutrients. Scientists have come to term such gifts ‘ecosystem services’, however the recognition of such services goes back thousands of years, and perhaps even farther if one accepts the caves paintings at Lascaux as evidence. Yet we have so disconnected ourselves from the natural world that it is easy—and often convenient—to forget that nature remains as giving as ever, even as it vanishes bit-by-bit. The rise of technology and industry may have distanced us superficially from nature, but it has not changed our reliance on the natural world: most of what we use and consume on a daily basis remains the product of multitudes of interactions within nature, and many of those interactions are imperiled. Beyond such physical goods, the natural world provides less tangible, but just as important, gifts in terms of beauty, art, and spirituality.
(03/03/2011) Food prices in February hit a new record, breaking the previous one set in January and continuing an eight-month streak of rising prices, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Experts fear that rising food prices could lead to another food crisis similar to that of 2007-2008.
(02/09/2011) The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that a drought in China could devastate the nation’s winter wheat crop and further inflate food prices worldwide. Already, food prices hit a record high in January according to the FAO. Rising 3.4 percent since December, prices reached the highest point since tracking began in 1990. While many fear a food crisis similar to the one in 2008-2007, experts say the world has more food in reserve this time around and gasoline, at least for now, remains cheaper. However, if China loses its winter wheat that could scuttle any hopes of avoiding another price rise in crop staples.