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High food,oil prices to push 18 mn Asians into poverty:UNESCAP

As many as 17.8 million people in Asia could be pushed below the poverty line if the food price inflation doubles in 2011 and oil prices surge to USD 130 per barrel, according to a report by UN-ESCAP.

It said if staple food prices were to rise at twice the 2010 rate and average oil prices touch USD 130 a barrel, 17.8 million people would be pushed below the poverty line, said the report titled 'Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2011'.

"Food prices have increased in various countries by up to 35 per cent. Rising food prices are having dire effects on the poor and reversing development gains," the report said.

It also said that if food prices rise at the same rate as in 2010, and the average oil price be USD 115 a barrel then another 5.1 million people could come into poverty.

"The impact would be more severe in rural areas where the majority of poor live. India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Lao people's Democratic Republic are the most vulnerable to the poverty-enhancing impact of high food and oil prices," the report said.

The UN ESCAP said that the target of halving hunger and poverty in Asia by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goal would be postponed till 2020 if food prices doubles.

"High food prices can keep people in the poverty or push below the poverty line if they are net buyers of staple food. Unexpected rises in staple food prices have an immediate negative effect on the urban poor," it said.

Earlier, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report had said the resurgent food prices that a 10 per cent rise in domestic food prices could push an additional 64 million people, out of 3.3 billion people living in the continent, into extreme poverty, based on the USD 1.25 a day poverty line.

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