Responding to charges emanating from the White House that higher food consumption in India was causing a global food crisis due to rising prices industry body CII has said that rising food prices is a matter of concern that needed immediate global response. "We need to build a global platform for dialogue and action to manage the crisis", it said in a statement in New Delhi yesterday.
Last week President George Bush and his secretary of state had made identical comments blaming India and China for the rising food prices, with the president blaming the rising prosperity of India's huge middle class for the spiraling global food prices (See: Bush, Rice say rising food consumption in India, China raising prices).
Bush had made the statement while announcing $770 million in emergency food assistance to poor countries, responding to rising food prices that have resulted in social unrest in several nations
Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII, in the statement, "The entire issue of food prices needs to be seen in a global perspective and not just seen as an issue emanating from specific countries. There is a need for greater flow of global information on food production and consumption and cuts in food wastage."
CII is setting up a Task Force to look into this area, he added. It said that the current crisis has been created due to several reasons. The main factors for the crisis include diversion of food to bio fuels, changing weather conditions across the globe leading to droughts which mean lower food production in several countries and huge agricultural subsidies which encourage leaving agricultural land fallow to maintain global prices of agricultural products.
The industry body says that this crisis should trigger a global discussion to build stronger information networks on consumption and production so that corrective measures can be taken across the globe to avert such a crisis. The global food management system can be developed under the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), it said.
The CII Task Force on Food will look into improving productivity, bridging yield gap, encouraging private sector participation in distribution of food, said Banerjee. The industry body says it is also working on an agenda for developing second generation of bio-fuels which do not eat into the food stock or impinge on agricultural land. This calls for a global discussion on how this can be managed and extensive partnerships in R&D for development of second generation feed-stocks, because alternate supply of fuels cannot also be ignored, he added.