Wrong response aggravates Asia food crisis: ADB report

MANILA, May 9, 2008 (AFP) – Asia’s response to tightening global grain supplies has aggravated food price inflation and uncertainty, according to an Asian Development Bank report released here Friday. Export bans and price floors imposed by grain exporters including China, Pakistan, Vietnam and India “have increased price volatility and uncertainty in the international rice markets,” reducing supplies.

These have been “contributing significantly to the surge in rice price especially since the end of 2007,” the Manila-based lender said.

Among the importers, “precautionary demand for food stocks in many countries is contributing to food grain price increases,” said the report, which cited “sustained procurements” in international markets by Bangladesh and the Philippines.

The report, “Soaring Food Prices: Response to the Crisis,” said “strong political and economic factors ” were at play in the food policies of most developing Asian countries, “so that the effect of sharply higher international prices has not been fully transmitted to domestic prices.”

The bank said crackdowns by Dhaka and Manila on private traders accused of hoarding food grains were “difficult to implement” and have