Averting a Food Crisis in Asia

The findings and recommendations of the Asia Society/International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Task Force on Food Security and Sustainability in Asia will be released on Sept. 27. “Devastating floods in Pakistan, deadly mudslides in central China, and a severe drought in Russia demonstrate in stark relief the fragility of national and global food systems and underscore the urgent need to find sustainable solutions,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Director of Policy Studies. “The situation in Asia, where two-thirds of world’s one billion people suffering from hunger reside, is especially acute. Asia’s ability to feed itself is of fundamental importance not only to the people living in the region, but also to the world. One of the bright spots over the past half-century has been Asia’s capacity to lift many of its citizens out of poverty and ensure that they have plentiful, inexpensive supplies of food. But the historical gains from the green revolution are increasingly at risk. Declining trends in agricultural research and rural investment may lead to long-term food supply shortages and increased vulnerability to the famines that used to plague the region.”

“The Asia Society/IRRI Task Force recommends an action plan focused on three key areas. First, we need to raise and sustain the productivity of rice farmers, including improving resilience of crops to climate change. Second, countries and donor organizations should increase investments in rural development and the agricultural sector must be the priority. A ‘pro-poor and pro-women growth’ strategy is the only sustainable route out of poverty and hunger. And third, food safety net programs must be brought up to scale at the national level. Investments must target better health, nutrition and formal education programs.” Suzanne, who is based in New York, directs the Asia Society’s Task Force on Food Security and Sustainability.

The Task Force’s report will be released at a symposium to be held Sept. 27, from 2:30 to 5 p.m., at the Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd Street, New York.

To arrange coverage or request an advance copy of the report, please contact Stephanie Hoo at shoo@asiasociety.org or 212-327-9295. For more information, see AsiaSociety.org/FoodSecurity