Saturday, February 16, 2013

Modern food supply technology 'key to affordable food'

Joel D. Adriano in The modernisation of farm-to-market supply chains is important for increasing farmers' income, alleviating poverty, cutting food waste and improving the affordability of food staples, according to the authors of a book. The Quiet Revolution in Staple Food Value Chains: Enter the Dragon, the Elephant, and the Tiger is a joint project by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that was launched last month.

The book examines the movement of rice and potatoes from the farm to the consumer — known as the 'value chain' — in three Asian countries: Bangladesh, China and India. Rice and potato are food staples in Asia.

Thomas Reardon, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University, United States, and one of the book's authors, says that the study also has lessons for South-East Asian and Pacific island states.

He says that all three countries have found ways to modernise the value chains of these staple crops. He adds that the changes had been introduced at the grassroots and brought about mainly by mobile phones, the use of improved crop varieties and technological changes related to rice milling and potato storage.

Reardon says the rapid rise of modern cold storage facilities for potatoes, which enable them to be supplied out of season, had led to more stable prices and higher incomes for farmers.... 

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