The world needs to learn from China: FAO chief

Updated: 2013-06-04 09:23


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ROME - The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said Monday that China has saved almost 100 million people from hunger, a reduction of 37.6 percent over the past two decades that puts it on track to achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goal of halving the prevalence of poverty and hunger by 2015.

"The progress that countries have made against hunger and extreme poverty show that we can reach the hunger-free and sustainable world that we are committed," the FAO chief, Jose Graziano da Silva, wrote in an article "Lessions from China's Success in Reducing Hunger" that was published in Xinhuanet before his visit to China on June 4-7.

"To get there, we need to reinvigorate broad-based economic growth by creating the conditions for development of the productive sectors, including smallholder agriculture. It will also mean designing, financing, and implementing social protection for the most vulnerable since the main cause of hunger today is not insufficient production but lack of access to food," he continued.

In his signed article, the director-general stressed that the experience of China offers valuable lessons in this regard. Economic growth in China has been rapid for the past three decades. Growth has been especially buoyant in urban areas, but over the past 10 years, real incomes have also grown nearly 8 percent per year in rural areas, and there are now signs that the urban-rural gap in incomes is narrowing.

Because of this broad-based economic growth, "dollar-a-day" poverty declined from 84 percent in 1981 to just 12 percent in 2009.

As one of the powerhouses of the world's economy, the head of the Rome-base UN food agency said, many are turning to China to see how it has managed such impressive economic growth. This interest also extends to the fields of food security and agriculture.

That is why, he said , in view of China's rapid growth in agricultural production, consumption and trade, and in the context of the issues the country may face in the future and their implications for the rest of world, the OECD and FAO decided to produce a special chapter on China in its 2013-2022 Agricultural Outlook, which will be launched in Beijing on June 6.