ISLAMABAD  - Two-thirds of the world’s one billion hungry reside in Asia and the Pacific and rising food prices are bringing the spectre of food shortages and under nutrition to millions more of the region’s poor. The ADB report Global Food Price Inflation and Developing Asia shows global food prices hit a new peak in February 2011.

ADB economists predict that the subsequent 10 per cent rise in domestic food price inflation in developing Asia could cause 64 million more Asians to sink into poverty. These unprecedented global food price surges expose vulnerabilities to food and nutrition insecurity not only of the region’s households but also of its governments.

Both rural and urban poor spend more than half of their income on food. Recurrent food price spikes are a setback for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially those related to poverty and hunger reduction.

It is estimated that close to 60 per cent of the population will be living in urban areas by 2025. Supplying growing cities with adequate and affordable food is a major challenge, requiring massive investments in food distribution, storage, and marketing facilities.

“Asia faces an acute water shortage. By 2030, demand for water is anticipated to exceed supply by 40 per cent Since 80 per cent of water is used for agricultural production, lack of water leads to lack of food,” the report said, adding that to grow more food with less water in the region, the productivity of water will need to be improved substantially, through more efficient and sustainable management of water.