Food Security in Asia needs to be taken seriously.
In the Asia Pacific region, food security is being fundamentally altered, as patterns of food consumption and production change alongside global trends—like climate change—in sustaining agricultural output.
With the two most populous nations on the planet in the region, changes in climate change and climate risk are already having a devasting impact on the region.
The dynamics of food security are changing fast.
However, after 2 decades of stunning economic growth, rapid reduction in absolute poverty, expanding urbanization, industrialization, and a rising middle class, the region is still home to more than 60% of the world’s hungry.
The rise in affluence in conjunction with growing populations continues to drive greater demand for more protein-rich food and better nutrition. This has enormous implications for the intensity of production in the region.
These two divergent but connected factors are major factors that will affect Asia Pacific in the coming decades: one of progress and prosperity versus one of continued poverty.
Strong income and population growth, industrialization, and urbanization continue as driving forces behind the fundamental structural change in global food production and market systems.
Asia Pacific’s rise adds to the pressures on land, water, and energy resources. Producing more food with fewer natural resources to meet ever-rising and evolving demand may be the ultimate challenge for the 21st century.
So what can we, as consumers, do to help alleviate the stress that increasing populations and an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor?
This is a very complex question to which there is no one-answer-for-all.
To start with, food security requires regional and global cooperation. Regionally, three broad policies can help ensure food security and reduce excessive price volatility: adequate food stocks and reserves, accurate market information, and trade liberalization.
Then, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor must become a priority for governments around the region. Investment in agricultural advancements must be made sooner rather than later.
And finally, we need to look at halting the effects of climate change on agricultural production and supply chains.
According to a recent paper, half of the planet’s glaciers will have disappeared even in we achieve the goals set out in the Paris climate agreement.
And in Asia Pacific, the loss of glacial meltwater can lead to catastrophic consequences for both China and India, the two most populous countries in the world.
Striving to halt the drastic events of climate change, working together to improve agricultural innovation, the use of technology to increase access to foodstuffs and aggressively facilitate financing for less developed nations, are all just part of the process.
But at least it is a start – according to the Asian Development Bank, Asia Pacific has 60% of the global population living in the region but accounts for just a little more than 50% of global food consumption—its per capita food consumption remains below the world average.
This will change in the coming decades, but the time to put concrete policies in place is now – or the region will be stuck in a never-ending cycle of food insecurity.