Food Security

Wheat production is estimated to total 645.4 million tons, lower than the forecast 662.7 million tons of demand for the year 2010-2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Corn output is estimated at 814.3 million tons, compared with 836 million tons of demand, while rice production is estimated at 451.6 million tons, slightly above the consumption of 451 million tons, it said.

Investments in agriculture to boost production and productivity are important to improve food security, Konuma said. About 947 million people still live in poverty in Asia, according to the FAO.

World food production will have to increase by 70 percent by 2050 to meet increasing demand from an expanding global population, which is projected to rise to 9.1 billion by 2050 from 6.9 billion at present, Konuma said.

Rice prices rose to records in January in Indonesia, the world's fourth-most-populous nation, prompting the government to suspend import duty on the grain, FAO said last week. Prices remained at record highs last month in Bangladesh, the largest South Asian rice buyer, because of low inventories, according to the report.

North Korea and Afghanistan also face the risk of food shortages and rising prices, Konuma said.

"Rising food prices put pressure on inflation and will have an impact on income and economic expansion," Javed Hussain Mir, the Asian Development Bank's director of Southeast Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division, said in a seminar in Bangkok.

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