Japan’s Finance Minister, Fukushiro Nukaga, told an Asian business conference there is a time bomb ticking in Asia due to dramatic rise in food prices. Other speakers echoed his warning. Indian Finance Secretary, D. Subba Rao, believes a rise in food prices of about 20% will create higher poverty in Asia. “In many countries that will mean the undoing of gains in poverty reduction achieved in the past decade of growth. The Asian Development Bank estimates about 20% of people in Asia are living on less than a $1.40 a day compared to 60% who lived that way in the 1960s.
The dual monster of rising oil prices and the shift to using food in order to obtain oil has resulted in dramatic rises in food prices and increased shortage in items like rice which are so important to the diet of Asians. Several nations have resorted to food subsidies or export restrictions to counter rising costs, but they only exacerbate price rises.
Perhaps, it is time for a world wide approach to confronting the two issues of food and fuel. The world has to begin getting serious about alternative energy resources and it must shift away from using food as a means of obtaining fuel. The alternative may well be the outbreak of serious conflicts in many parts of the world.