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Food Security in Asia: Recent Experiences, Issues and Challenges

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  • This study draws on analyses of the country experiences of Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, sponsored by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. References to Asia, unless otherwise indicated, refer to these countries. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not to be attributed to any organisation, including the FAO. The authors thank participants at various FAO workshops and conferences and in particular the following authors of the country studies: Uttam Deb (Bangladesh); Hossein Jalilian, Glenda Reyes and Lun Pide (Cambodia); Jikun Huang and Scott Rozelle (China); Simrit Kaur (India); Peter Warr and Arief Anshory Yusuf (Indonesia); Y. B. Thapa and Dilli Raj Khanal (Nepal); Rosemarie Edillon (Philippines); Jeevika Weerahewa and Sarath S. Kodithuwakku (Sri Lanka); Bhanuphong Nidhiprabha (Thailand) and Ian Coxhead and Vu Huang Linh (Vietnam). Rosemarie Edillon also contributed to the analysis of price volatility and cross-border price transmission, and to the updating of the country developments, and Chandra Jayasuriya assisted with the preparation of figures. The views expressed in this study are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the country study authors, the FAO or any of other organisation.

Correspondence: Sisira Jayasuriya, Department of Economics, Building H, Caulfield Campus, Monash University, PO Box 197, Caulfield East, VIC 3145, Australia. Email: sisira.jayasuriya@monash.edu

Abstract

After the sharp food price increases of 2007–2008 food security has once again become a major issue of global concern. When that food price spike was followed by the global financial crisis of 2008, a large increase in the number of food insecure people in Asia was widely expected. But Asian countries managed to avoid such a sharp increase in food insecurity, even though sharp price spikes have recurred since then. In this paper we show how government policy measures largely insulated consumers from severe price increases and maintained food security, but note that this success came at a price. In particular, the global food trading system was weakened, producer incentives were further distorted, and policies that may impose high long-term efficiency costs became more deeply entrenched. Major policy challenges need to be addressed to ensure Asia's food security over the coming decades.

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