Global food crisis looms anew

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The world is facing the threat of another food crisis similar to what happened in 2007-2008 when prices of commodities like rice spiked, according to the International Rice Research Institute.

IRRI attributes the looming crisis to the strong El Niño and the overall trend of climate change.

“Combined with lower stocks in a few key countries, emerging patterns in regional and global grain supply threaten the repeat of the painful rice price crisis in 2007-2008,” the Laguna-based institute said.

“To address such a crisis at a maximum impact, joint action is needed among countries, particularly the Asean+3 and India - recognizing shared responsibility as well as shared investment - and a regional trade outlook,” it added.

Asean+3 refers to the trading bloc that include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - and Asean’s three nearest dialog partners (China, Japan and South Korea).

IRRI noted that the 2007-2008 price crisis prompted the Asean to craft a regional integrated food security framework along with a strategic plan of action.

This in turn led to the setting up of the Asean+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (Apterr) in 2012, aimed at ensuring the long-term food security and livelihood of the people in the East Asian region .

“(However, Apterr’s) organization has been quite delayed and its feasibility yet to be tested by a major challenge,” IRRI said.

The institute added that beyond the framework and the plan, “much more needs to be done, and regional cooperation will be essential to manage a food crisis.”