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ADB, The Asian Development Bank
Asia, which is home to most of the world’s poor and undernourished populations, is finding increasing difficulty feeding its people as demand for food expands rapidly just as water and land resources decline. Because of these pressures, food prices have been rising since the 2000s. High and volatile food prices are eroding the purchasing power of households—especially of poor ones, which spend up to 70% of their budgets on food—and are thus undermining recent gains in poverty reduction. The impact of higher food prices is severe—an additional 112 million people could have escaped poverty in Asia during the late 2000s if food prices had not increased during the period. Thus, long- and short term strategies are needed to ensure food security and bolster efforts at poverty reduction. Policies to enhance food security that are discussed in this paper include safety net and social protection programs, and policies that promote agricultural productivity, rural development, agricultural research, and human capital investment.