FAO: Rising prices, food insecurity add to ranks of hungry

Jan 23, 2023, 6:20 AM | Updated: 10:20 pm
FILE - A produce vendor waits for customers at a market in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Jan. 22, 2022. G...

FILE - A produce vendor waits for customers at a market in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Jan. 22, 2022. Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough food to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other UN agencies released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

              FILE - People gather around a street food vendor in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Dec. 28, 2022. Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough food to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other UN agencies released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
            
              FILE - A produce vendor arranges carrots as he waits for customers at a market in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Jan. 22, 2022. Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough food to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other UN agencies released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)
            
              FILE - A laborer carries sacks of oranges in a wholesale fruit market in Lahore, Pakistan, on Dec. 1, 2021. Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough food to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other UN agencies released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, File)
            
              FILE - People wait for free food outside an eatery in Ahmedabad, India, on Jan. 20, 2021. Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough food to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other UN agencies released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
            
              FILE - A produce vendor waits for customers at a market in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Jan. 22, 2022. Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough food to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other UN agencies released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report released Tuesday by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other United Nations agencies.

Nearly a half-billion people, more than eight in 10 of them in South Asia, were undernourished in 2021 and more than 1 billion faced moderate to severe food insecurity, the report said. For the world, the prevalence of food insecurity rose to more than 29% in 2021 from 21% in 2014.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge setback, causing mass job losses and disruptions, and the war in Ukraine has pushed up prices for food, energy and fertilizer, putting an adequate diet out of the reach of many millions, it said.

The report is the fifth annual stocktaking on food insecurity and hunger by U.N. agencies including the FAO, UNICEF, World Health Organization and World Food Program.

Over those years, progress toward alleviating hunger and malnutrition has stalled and then backslid as growing numbers of people lost the wherewithal to get enough to eat. The prevalence of undernourishment as measured by the U.N. agencies was 9.1% in 2021, better than the 14.3% in 2000 but up slightly from 2020.

Such figures show that “the slowdown in the fight against hunger continues,” said the report, which also highlights the growing food insecurity faced by people who have moved into cities, where they have less easy access to affordable food.

“Reforming our agrifood systems to produce nutritious food and ensure equitable access to healthy diets is critical,” it said.

The FAO’s Food Price Index has risen in the past several years, hitting a record in March 2022. It fell back as commodity prices declined somewhat later in the year but is still 28% above the 2020 level.

The Asia-Pacific region imports nearly $2 trillion of food a year. Rising prices for basics like rice, wheat and oil hit the poor the hardest.

It’s part of what the U.N. agencies call the “5F” crisis of not enough food, feed, fertilizer, fuel and financing. The conflict in Ukraine has dealt a heavy blow in many countries that depended on the region for wheat, edible oils and fertilizers.

Nearly 2 billion people — or almost 45% of people living in Asia — cannot afford healthy diets, contributing to problems with anemia and obesity as well as hunger.

Underscoring the impact of the pandemic, which hit vulnerable workers in the tourism and manufacturing industries especially hard, nearly one in 10 Thais were undernourished in 2019-2021, according to data in the report — a higher proportion than several years earlier and also than in many other Southeast Asian countries where average incomes are much lower. Poverty already had risen by 2.6% between 2015-2018, according to World Bank data.

“An increase in poverty and in undernourishment would go together,” Sridhar Dharmapuri, the FAO’s author for the report released Tuesday, said in explaining the situation.

Unhealthy diets and inadequate food are also compromising future health and productivity, as they cause children to suffer from stunting or wasting and make them more susceptible to illness. The report says nearly a quarter of children in the Asia-Pacific are affected by stunting, or small height for their ages.

Some other details from the report:

— In Afghanistan, 70% of people are facing moderate or severe food insecurity as the economy has collapsed after the Taliban seized power in August 2021, driving millions into poverty and hunger as foreign aid stopped almost overnight.

— In Cambodia, half of the population faces moderate or severe food insecurity.

— One-third of women in Asia aged 15-49 are affected by anemia, which causes fatigue and, in its most severe forms, can cause lung and heart damage.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help detect if artificial intelligence wrote it
19 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
19 hours ago
The final Boeing 747 sits on the tarmac outside of the factory at a ceremony for delivery, Tuesday,...
Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bid farewell to an icon on Tuesday, delivering its final 747 jumbo jet as thousands of workers who helped build the planes over the past 55 years looked on. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of […]
19 hours ago
seattle police...
Associated Press

Name of Seattle officer in crash that killed woman released

Police have released the name of a Seattle police officer who was responding to a medical call when his patrol SUV hit and killed a 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula last week in a city crosswalk.
19 hours ago
Las Vegas police work near the home of former actor Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse, who goes by Natha...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor arrested in Nevada sex abuse case

NORTH LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas police on Tuesday arrested and raided the home of a former “Dances With Wolves” actor turned alleged cult leader accused of sexually assaulting young indigenous girls during a period spanning two decades, according to police records obtained by The Associated Press. Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse, who goes […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Bamm Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz perform on the first day of the annual French Quart...
Associated Press

French Quarter Festival unveils lineup for 40th anniversary

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Organizers on Tuesday announced a lineup of more than 270 acts for New Orleans’ 40th annual French Quarter Festival, billed as Louisiana’s largest free showcase of music, food and culture. Artists scheduled to perform at the April 13-16 event include Irma Thomas, Ani DiFranco, Tank and the Bangas, blues guitarist Samantha […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
FAO: Rising prices, food insecurity add to ranks of hungry