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Asia Pacific Gov’ts Urged to Increase Investments in Agriculture
Source: malaya.com.ph
Source Date: Thursday, July 08, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Thematic Website, Knowledge Management in Government, Citizen Engagement
Created: Jul 12, 2010

Governments all over Asia Pacific have to work harder to encourage investments in the agriculture sector if they want to feed the whole world as the region alone requires an annual investment of about $120 billion until 2050 in order to achieve a production capacity that will keep up with the projected global population of 1.5 billion in four decades.

Currently agriculture investments in the region amount to an aggregated $80 billion, which is more than 10 times what the Philippines plans to invest for a five-year period.

Based on the Philippines’ 2005-2010 medium term investment plan (MTPIP) for agriculture, the country would need P357.1 billion in order to develop at least 2 million hectares of new agribusiness lands in order to create at least two million jobs, and make food "plentiful at competitive prices."

Hiroyuki Konuma, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said efforts must be made to bring up the investments to the $120 billion level, a 60 percent increase, in order to ensure "food security" and address "chronic hunger" in the world.

The FAO data for last year showed that about 100 million people "joined the ranks of the global hungry directly" as a result of soaring food prices.

"The effects of this painful trend have been felt most acutely here in this region (Asia Pacific), where two-thirds of the world’s one billion hungry people now resides," said Jaruhiko Kuroda, Asian Development Bank (ADB) president, at yesterday’s opening of the ADB-led "Food Forum".

Kuroda said that while the world learned a lesson or two during the sudden spike of food in 2008, the situation is seen to worsen in the years to come.

"Although global food prices have now stabilized as compared with 2008, they still remain 85 percent higher than their 2003 levels. And according to recent FAO and OECD projections, food prices for 2010-2019 will be 15 percent to 40 percent higher in real terms than they were at 1997-2006 levels," he said.

"At the same time, people with rising incomes will demand diversified food choices, therefore adding strain (to) the region’s already stretched agricultural resources," Kuroda added.

Konuma said that global governments became very lax in the past after they managed to improve production during the "green revolution" years which resulted to lower food prices.

Increasing investments in agriculture will also ensure the means to address poverty in the region, where about 70 percent of the population are dependent on agriculture.

Ganesh Thapa, regional economist of Asia and the Pacific division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said that investment in the agriculture should be complemented with other support programs to address poverty in the area.

As in the case of the Philippines, the areas found with the most poverty incidence are those areas whose industry sector is tied to agriculture.
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