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UN official: China's commitment on rural development impressive
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17:01, October 21, 2008

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Video: Food crisis: over or forgotten amid financial crisis?

UN official: food crisis still real amid financial crisis

WFP expects to expand partnership with China

When the rest of the world is focusing on the financial crisis, China is focusing on its rural areas where most poor people live. That is particularly impressive for Ms. Anthea Webb, Director of the World Food Program China.

In an exclusive interview with People's Daily on Oct. 15, one day before the world Food Day, Ms. Webb said that was a "remarkable sign" that the agricultural development and the well-being of rural people are still "priority" of the Chinese government when it is addressing the challenges posed by the international financial crisis.

The Chinese ruling party has just declared its roadmap for the future development of the country's rural areas at the plenary meeting. Food security and more income for farmers are two of the six targets set by the resolution of the important meeting.

Ms. Webb is "optimistic" to China's ability to continue feeding its 1.3 billion population. She thinks that China is making "strong commitment and contribution" to the world food security by already feeding its people with such a small proportion of arable land.

The two challenges that China has to address to continue that miracle, suggested Ms. Webb, are the availability and proper use of land and water. She has noticed that China is making efforts on those issues.

China's reform started in a small village in Anhui Province in central China 30 years ago. Ms. Webb observed the achievements of the progress over the past 30 years in a very "humane sense". Six-year old boys were 6 centimeters shorter and 6 kilograms lighter than those today on average.

That means, said Ms. Webb, that six-year old boys now are going to be healthier, have better education, earn more money after school education, and develop more capacity to be a productive citizen to participate into China's economy, society and culture.

WFP also contributed to that progress. From 1979 to 2005, it worked with the Chinese government closely to provide nearly 4 million metric tons of food for 30 million people in China.

At the end of 2005, WFP stopped food aid to China as the country had made remarkable achievements on poverty reduction. Now China has become an important donor of WFP.

By People's Daily Online

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