WASHINGTON: “Apparent improvement” in the diets in India and China and consequent food export caps is among the “four causes” that has led to the crisis, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

She pointed to the exchange rate and the simple “inability” to procure food to the people as being responsible for the scarcity. “There are, kind of, four causes that we really have to look at. We have got to understand better what is happening in some conflict areas in terms of the distribution of food. It is obvious that there are places like Sudan, where we’ve had a sudden up-tick in the inability to distribute food,” said Ms. Rice.

“We obviously have to look at places where production seems to be declining and declining to the point that people are actually putting export caps on the amount of food. Now, some of that is not so much declining production as apparent improvement in the diets of people, for instance, in China and India, and then pressures to keep food inside the country. So, that is another element that we have to look at,” she said. The “incredible cost” that fuel prices was bringing on the ability to distribute or to get food to people, was also a cause, she added. “Biofuels,” which was “not a large part of the problem, but it may, in fact, be a part of the problem,” she said. — PTI