Soaring food prices a threat across Asia

MANILA, April 26, 2011 (AFP) – Soaring global food prices threaten to push tens of millions of Asians into extreme poverty and cut the region’s economic growth this year, the Asian Development Bank warned in a report Tuesday. Cereal inventories globally will shrink further unless production rises at least 2.0 percent this year, the report said. Coupled with skyrocketing oil prices, the spike poses a serious setback for developing Asia after having rebounded rapidly and strongly from the 2008 global economic crisis, said chief ADB economist Rhee Changyong.

“Left unchecked, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction made in Asia,” Rhee said in a statement.

Domestic food inflation in developing Asian nations hit 10 percent at the start of this year, with double-digit rises in the price of wheat, corn, sugar, edible oils, dairy products and meat, the Manila-based institution said.

If this rate continues, as is likely, 64 million people in developing Asia could be pushed into extreme poverty and economic growth could be reduced by up to 1.5 percentage points this year, the bank warned.

Vietnam has been one of the hardest hit nations in terms of rice inflation, despite being a ma