Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 15:36 UK

Asian bank offers food price help

People queuing for cheap rice in Manila

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has offered to support countries dealing with the effects of rising food prices.

It says loans could be made available to countries so that they can subsidise the price of staples to help the poor.

No countries have asked for help yet, but ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said Bangladesh, where there has been unrest over food prices, would qualify.

In the past year, the cost of staples has soared, with wheat rising by 130% and rice up by 74%.

The World Bank has estimated that 100 million people could be pushed deeper into poverty by rising prices.

The ADB has identified food inflation as the biggest threat to economic conditions in Asia, where more than 600 million people survive on less than $1 a day.

"Poverty reduction has been very rapid in many Asian economies, but the current high food price inflation has really affected poor people in the region, particularly in low income countries like Bangladesh," Mr Kuroda said.

But he warned governments against introducing protectionist measures or restrictions on trade in an attempt to tackle food price rises.

"Trade measures, price control measures, are not efficient or effective in the long run and in the short run they can intensify or exacerbate the situation in the world or in the region as a whole. But it's a difficult decision to be made by governments," the ADB president said.

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