CII to set up task force

The Hindu, May 05, 2008

In the wake of the rising food prices owing to a global shortage, the Confederation of India Industry (CII) has decided to set up a task force to chalk out steps to raise farm production, improve productivity and encourage private sector participation in food distribution.

In a statement here on Sunday, the apex chamber noted that the rising food prices was a matter of concern and called for an immediate global response by way of a platform for dialogue and action to manage the crisis.

“The entire issue of food prices needs to be seen in a global perspective and not just as an issue emanating from specific countries. There is a need for greater flow of global information on food production, consumption and reduction in food wastage,” CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee said.

According to the chamber, the main factors for the current food crisis include diversion of farm produce to generate bio-fuels, changing weather conditions across the globe leading to droughts and lower food production in several countries and huge farm subsidies which encourage leaving land fallow to maintain global prices of agricultural products.

The current crisis, the CII said, should trigger a global discussion to build stronger information networks on consumption and production so that corrective measures could be taken across the globe.

The global food management system could be developed under the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), it said.

Meanwhile, CUTS International, an economic policy research and advocacy group, has criticised United States President George Bush for his remarks on food prices going up partly due to the rising prosperity of India’s middle class.

In a statement released here, CUTS Secretary General Pradeep S. Mehta and Research Director Siddarth Mitra said: “George Bush’s remarks on India being the cause for high food prices reflects his utter lack of intelligence, poor understanding on economics and sheer ignorance of basis statistics on food consumption.”

“The average American’s food consumption in calories is 50 per cent more than the average Indian’s; in addition it is still increasing over time at a rate which is faster than that of half-starved India. The current average American intake of 3770 calories, a figure provided by the FAO Statistical Yearbook, is the maintenance diet of a sedentary person weighing 114 kg. Indians, on the other hand, still consume only 2440 calories per capita – just enough to support a much leaner 74 kg,” they said.

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