Demand, Supply, Sustainability and Security
Edited by Raghbendra Jha, Raghav Gaiha and Anil B. Deolalikar
Chapter 19: Food entitlements, subsidies and right to food: a South Asian perspective
Hikes in global food prices have been a cause of grave concern in recent years, especially since 2007-08. Compared to the recent past, cereal prices have increased the most amongst all food commodities and are expected to remain high particularly in import-dependent developing countries. A recent study shows that the average world market price, relative to the 2010 level, of processed rice will rise by 31 per cent by 2020 and by 73 per cent by 2030 (Willenbockel, 2011). The corresponding figures for maize are 33 per cent and 89 per cent, respectively. Further, rise in prices has been accompanied by rising food price volatility. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that high and volatile prices are likely to persist in the coming years on account of uncertainties surrounding output production in major food producing countries and a sharp run down of inventories (FAO, 2011). In South Asia, food inflation varied widely in 2007-08, ranging from relatively moderate in India (about 7 per cent) to high in Nepal and Bangladesh (about 15 per cent), to very high in Pakistan (about 20 per cent) and in excess of 30 per cent in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Further, food price inflation exceeded nonfood inflation throughout South Asia (except India). Though food price inflation fell after reaching a peak in 2007-08, once again in 2010 food price inflation became the main factor driving general inflation.
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