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'Investments needed to boost food production' 17 Oct 2011

The Hindu Business Line

 

There is a need for investments in creating infrastructure to increase food production, according to Mr S. Sivakumar, Chief Executive of Agri Business Division of ITC Ltd.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Food Prices from Crisis to Stability' organised as part of the World Food Day celebrations at the National Institute of Nutrition here on Sunday, Mr Sivakumar said about nine billion people globally would have to be provided food by 2050 .

If corresponding growth did not happen in supply, it would lead to increase in prices of food items. This will call for expansion of irrigation facilities which require investments.

"There was unprecedented hike in food prices in 2007 which continued. The supply-demand mismatch was the main reason behind this," he said.

While increasing production was a long-term solution, the Government could actually act in anticipation of supply problems and open up imports in the short-term. This would require high quality market intelligence, the ITC functionary said.

Mr G. Chandrashekhar, Associate Editor, the Hindu Business Line said huge flow of speculative capital in to the commodity markets was one of the drivers of price volatility in food.

Strong regulatory oversight and control was required on financialisation of commodities market, he said.

Health issues

Dr B. Sesikeran, Director, National Institute of Nutrition, said higher food prices and their shortage would have a cascading impact on health of the people. “There is evidence to say that shortage of food items for a year could lead to adverse impact on people for about 40-50 years,” he said.

Fortification of cereals with nutritional supplements is one of the short-term solutions, he added.

The seminar was organised by the Association of Food Scientists and Technologies (India), Oil Technologists Association of India and National Institute of Nutrition.

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