The Asia-Pacific region was on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the prevalence of extreme poverty by 2015, but recent dramatic rises in the price of rice and other staples have pushed millions of people back into hunger and poverty. This indicates that the region's food supply system is more fragile and imbalanced than what was previously believed. Proximate causes of the rise in staple prices can be found in market forces such as export restrictions and rising energy prices but the ultimate causes are policies that have led to under-investment in agricultural research and emergency mitigation. Large numbers of people in the Asia-Pacific were already undernourished prior to the recent price rises, relying on monotonous diets dominated by a few staples. Pushed into reducing their dietary diversity even further, many more millions are now suffering from hunger and deteriorating health. The most fundamental food crisis in the Asia-Pacific is one of poor diets, and this affects the obese just as much as the undernourished. The solution lies in a food system that focuses on producing balanced diets, developing safe production practices, increasing food supplies by reducing losses, and investing in the research that make it all happen. Improving food systems is a fundamental community expectation and can be a matter of government survival, but if the urgency to improve food supplies overrides improving diets, the long-term impact on national health will be severe. Proactive policies, regional responses, and more integrated scientific approaches are needed.

Full Text

Published Version
Open DOI Link

Get access to 115M+ research papers

Discover from 40M+ Open access, 2M+ Pre-prints, 9.5M Topics and 32K+ Journals.

Sign Up Now! It's FREE