Strong income and population growth, industrialization, and urbanization continue as driving forces behind the fundamental structural change in global food production and market systems. While Asia's economic growth and ongoing structural transformation deepen the complexity in managing the limited natural resources required for food security, many pockets of Asia continue to struggle with high levels of poverty and poor nutrition.
The economies of developing Asia and the Pacific grew an average 7.6% a year between 1990 and 2010, far exceeding the 3.4% global average. 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. Food consumption in Asia and the Pacific has grown steadily, from 2,379 kilocalories per capita per day in 1990 to 2,665 in 2009. But some 733 million people in the region still live in absolute poverty (defined as living on less than $1.25 a day, in 2005 purchasing power parity); and 537 million remain undernourished. These are the two faces of Asia - one of progress and prosperity; the other of continued poverty.
The main findings from project background studies to highlight key food security issues across the region showed three major themes:
This synthesis report is the result of close, collaborative research initiated by the Asian Development Bank in partnership with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; and the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia. Fourteen background papers were commissioned to investigate food security issues particularly pertinent for Asia and the Pacific. The report synthesizes and collates the primary findings from these papers to articulate key policy challenges and opportunities related to food security in the region.