Sri Lanka set to suffer if wheat prices rise: ADB

Mar 19, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is one of the countries in South Asia whose poor would suffer if prices of commodities like wheat rise further, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) said in a new report. But the study said rapid population growth, changing food consumption patterns linked to higher incomes, and stagnating agricultural output are more critical factors driving rising food demand and inflation.

Although governments in the region have taken steps to counter higher prices, some measures may not be helpful to neighboring countries.

“India™s temporary food export restrictions, for example, could have had adverse impact on prices in neighboring countries, as India is the world™s second largest rice producer,” the ADB said. It said targeted food subsidies would help South Asia cope with future food price spikes.

“A spike in the cost of food staples like rice and wheat could push tens of millions more people into extreme poverty in South Asia but food subsidies targeted at the very poorest in the region would help them cope with still-high prices,” it said.

South Asia™s high population growth rates and the high number of people already living on or close to the extreme po