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Asian Food Security Project Granted US $4 million

By Steve Humphreys - 18 Nov 2010 14:3:1 GMT
Asian Food Security Project Granted US $4 million

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing US$4 million to work on food security in Asia.

The project, Strategic Research for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security in Asia, proposed in August, was approved by the ADB Board of Directors on 17th November. The number of people suffering from chronic hunger reached a record one billion globally in 2009, with Asia accounting for approximately two-thirds of the world's hungry.

ADB will work with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to address water use problems, fragmented food supply chains and underinvestment in agricultural research.

Lourdes Adriano, ADB Principal Agriculture Sector Specialist and Responsible Officer for the project, said, "This regional initiative will seek to find ways to boost food productivity, to develop more integrated supply chains and to raise awareness about agricultural research and development. The goal is to come up with environmentally friendly, innovative measures which have a high impact on food security and nutrition, which engage small-scale farmers, which are feasible and cost effective, and which can be expanded and replicated."

South Asia has the highest regional "hunger index", at 22.9 (out of 100), according to the IFPRI's latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) released in October. A country's GHI is calculated from the proportion of malnourished people in the population, the prevalence of underweight in under-5s and the child mortality rate.

Scores are on a scale from 0 (no hunger) to 100. Countries with a score below 5 have little hunger, while scores between 5 and 10 reflect moderate hunger. Scores between 10 and 20 indicate a serious problem; scores over 20 are described by the GHI's authors as "alarming".

The countries involved in the Strategic Research for Sustainable Food and Nutrition project (Bangladesh, Cambodia, People's Republic of China, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam) have an average GHI of 15.9 - though India and Bangladesh both have a GHI over 24.

The project aims to find ecologically-sound ways to increase crop yield from rice – including reducing the proportion of crops lost to pests both before and after harvesting. Farmers will be involved in bringing forward development plans, and the project will look to create parnerships for food supply chain and sustainable water use.

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Topics: Agriculture