Edited by Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Sridhar Khatri and Hans-Peter Brunner
Chapter 8: Food Security in South Asia: Strategies and Programmes for Regional Collaboration
Muhammad Iqbal and Rashid Amjad INTRODUCTION A dramatic increase in food prices from mid-2007 to mid-2008 brought into sharp focus the critical need for ensuring food security in most developing countries, especially to protect the poor and vulnerable households. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index rose on average by 56 per cent in this period and an estimated 75 million people joined the number of hungry (FAO, 2008). Though global cereal prices subsequently declined below the level of 2008, starting in mid-2010 prices increased again – to a level which was 32 per cent higher in April 2011 than what it was in 2008 (see Figure 8.1 and Table 8.1). A number of factors contributed to creating this imbalance between supply and demand and the resulting sharp increase in food prices. These included short-term fluctuations but, more importantly, structural shifts in demand for food grains which are expected to continue over the long run. Among the most important of these factors were: poor harvests of food crops in major agricultural regions; increased cost of food production, processing and marketing due to higher oil prices; increased demand from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India; and diversion of food crops from human consumption use to produce biofuel and manufacturing of animal feed. To this one can add the role of speculators, which may explain spikes in food prices but not necessarily the cause of these shortages. As Mellor (2009) points out, high food prices cause decline in real...
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