MANILA — The Asian Development Bank says world food prices have surged by more than 30 percent in the first two months and threaten to push millions of Asians into extreme poverty.

The Manila-based lender says in a report Tuesday that food inflation in many Asian economies has averaged 10 percent early this year and is likely to continue because of the global oil hikes, production shortfalls due to bad weather and export restrictions by several food producing countries.

The fast increases in the cost of food are a serious setback for the region that has rebounded rapidly from the global economic crisis.

ADB chief economist Changyong Rhee says food export bans should be avoided and greater investments made in agriculture. (AP)