Singapore (ANTARA News) - A senior official of the Asian Development Bank said Tuesday that high food prices will be a long-term trend.
"We all have to reconcile with the fact that the era of cheap food is over," ADB Managing Director General Rajat Nag was quoted by Kyodo as telling reporters in Singapore.
"Prices are definitely high in real terms, compared to the 70s and 80s, and
those trends will continue," he said. "The trend is toward upwards pressure
on land and cost of production."
He said the impact of the skyrocketing price of rice on Asia, where rice is a
staple, is "very very serious."
He urged governments to provide direct cash and income support for the poor rather than using price and export controls to tackle the crisis.
"Our advice to governments is to go for targeted support for the poor," he said. "It's unproductive for countries to depend on price controls and trade
measures to deal with the crisis."
The ADB sees a greater risk of inflation in Asia, where rapid industrial and urban developments have depleted land for agricultural production, he said.
Nag also urged developed countries to rethink their policy of providing subsidies to farmers for planting crops that can be used as biofuels.
"It is probably time to rethink the whole biofuels issue. We believe biofuels not as green as we had hoped. Subsidies obviously distort the allocation of resources," he said.
His comments come ahead of a plenary meeting of the bank's member countries in the first week of May in Madrid.
High on the agenda of the ADB plenary session is to assess how the deceleration of the world economy as well as energy and food price surges will affect Asian developing countries, the bank said. (*)