So much from so little land FAO lauds food programme

IT IS a remarkable achievement that China, with only 7% of the world’s arable land, is able to feed its 1.3 billion people – a quarter of the global population.  

China is also reaching out to help other countries overcome disadvantages.  

In an exclusive interview last week, Victoria Sekitoleko, Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) representative in China, Mongolia and North Korea, not only spoke highly of what China had achieved, but also had high expectations of China meeting more challenges ahead.  

The most important feature of the food market in 2006 was the surge in the price of cereals, in particular wheat and maize, which had reached levels not seen for a decade.  

Poor harvests in key producing countries, especially in drought-stricken Australia, and a growing demand for biofuels, which consumed a large slice of the agricultural produce, were the main factors that hit the grain markets.  

“Considering China’s strategy of grain self-sufficiency, and the fact that it can feed its large population testifies how important a role China has played in stabilising the world food market,” she said.  

China’s recent move to stabilise grain prices by pouring state reserves into the market should be recommended, she said.  

But given the fact that today more than 23 million rural people in China are still poor, Sekitoleko warned poverty eradication was a long-term battle and had an influence far beyond borders.  

A drop of 1 percentage point in China’s grain output means extra imports of nearly five million tons or 2.5% of the world’s total grain trade volume.  

“Therefore, food security in China is more than just economics and trade,” she said.  

The confidence comes from not only what China has achieved within its own borders, but also what it is contributing to the world.  

China has much to offer and many practical and cost-effective technologies in various technical fields can be shared by other developing countries, she said.  

“China is very supportive of FAO’s food programme China does what it promises,” Sekitoleko said.  

“If we follow the steps, we will reach goals set by our two sides.” – China Daily / Asia News Network  

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