Rising food prices feed security concerns
Asian nations have taken steps to stem rising prices of rice and palm oil. Corn and wheat prices have spiked as well.
Rising rice and global food prices have stoked food security concerns. In some places, that's led to protests and concerns that the escalating costs of staple foods may increasingly influence social and political stability.Skip to next paragraph
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Some Asian nations have taken action in the face of rising rice prices and debate over food security. India has restricted some rice exports, Indonesia has raised taxes on palm oil shipments, and Malaysia is building up rice stocks.
Rising global food prices have already caused political fallout; one analyst, in an United Press International editorial, says that Pakistan's food ration cards contributed to the unpopularity of President Pervez Musharraf.
In Asia this week, rice prices surged to a 20-year high in the latest sign of global food inflation. Governments are concerned that rice shortages will strain social cohesion, possibly leading to social unrest. Economists such as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen have described rice as a critical component of food and overall human security in developing countries in Asia. The rising prices may create policy challenges in Asia, reports the Financial Times.
Rice prices in Thailand, a global benchmark, rose last week above the level of $500 a metric ton for the first time since 1989, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, pushing importing countries to seek assurances on supplies. Robert Ziegler, director at the International Rice Research Institute in Manila cautioned policymakers.
In the Philippines, consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in 16 months in February, driven by rising food prices, Bloomberg reports. Prices of rice, corn, pork, and cooking oil rose last month, according to the Filipino Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. Food prices accounted for half of the price rise.
Rising oil and food prices in the Philippines has led to overall cost of living increases that have driven nearly 4 million people back into poverty, Agence France-Presse reports. The number of Filipinos living on just a dollar a day rose from 23.8 million in 2003 to 27.6 million in 2006, according to a survey from the Economic Planning Ministry. Overall prices rose by 22 percent between 2003 and 2006.