India is considering a blanket ban on trading in food futures, highlighting growing concerns in Asia over the role of hedge funds and financial market traders in the recent surge in commodities prices. An emergency move by India to shut down its food futures market, proposed on Monday by P Chidambaram, the finance minister, would reverse measures introduced only five years ago to aid the development of India as a financial centre.

North Korea is about three months away from a crisis in humanitarian terms, as a poor harvest and declining aid from neighbouring countries threaten to create dramatic food shortages, the World Food Programme warned yesterday. Tony Banbury, the WFP's regional director for Asia, told the Financial Times that, while such a crisis could be averted over the coming months, "there are no real actions being taken and no obvious solutions in the immediate horizon".