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China pledges further support for food security in Africa

(Xinhua)

08:33, August 17, 2011

BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- China will exert its utmost efforts to help African states to improve their food security, a senior Chinese diplomat said here on Tuesday.

Lu Shaye, director-general of the department of African affairs of the Foreign Ministry made the pledge in a written interview with Xinhua.

His remarks came one day after Premier Wen Jiabao announced an additional 353.2 million yuan (55.28 million U.S. dollars) emergency aid to Ethiopia and other drought-hit African countries.

"That emergency aid, including food and cash, will be provided through bilateral channels to the affected countries and the refugee-receiving ones, and through multilateral frameworks like United Nations organizations," Lu said.

Lu recalled China's agricultural cooperation with African states since the 1960s, saying that China has established more than 40 agricultural cooperation projects in 30 African countries.

The Chinese government announced a new plan to expand such cooperation at the Beijing Summit of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in 2006, which has subsequently been implemented, he said.

From 2007 to 2009, China has dispatched 104 senior agricultural experts to 33 African countries, established agricultural technology center in 14 African countries and has decided to build 10 more, he said.

Since 2009, China has sent 16 groups of agricultural experts to Africa and trained 874 Africans as agricultural experts, Lu said.

In the multilateral field, China actively participated in the Special Programme for Food Security of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO). It has sent more than 700 agronomists to eight African nations, he said.

In 2009, China donated 30 million U.S. dollars to the UNFAO for the establishment of a trust fund, which further promoted cooperation between China and Africa on food security.

In addition to governmental cooperation, China has also encouraged its domestic companies to invest in the agricultural industry in Africa, construct agricultural infrastructure and transfer agricultural technology, he noted.

China's agricultural investments to Africa in 2009 amounted to about 30 million U.S. dollars, he added.

In Malawi, Chinese companies and the China-Africa Development Fund jointly invested in a cotton cultivation program, said Lu. Once completed, the program will help more than 50,000 local farmers to increase their cotton production and processing capacity, so as to enable them to earn more.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chinese companies made investments in selective breeding of corn, which helped local corn farmers get supplier qualifications issued by United Nations World Food Program, he said.

Lu said, as a developing country, China fully understood the African nations' concern over food security and sympathized with their difficulties.

China will try its best to help African nations to improve food security, he said.

He also noted that China's intention to conduct agricultural cooperation with African countries was to help them improve grain productivity and promote food security in Africa, rather than safeguarding China's food security.

"China has never taken away a single grain from Africa," said Lu.

He refuted accusations from some countries that the drought in the Horn of Africa region was caused by China's land acquisition activities.

He said, in the future, China's agricultural cooperation with Africa will focus on technology demonstration, personnel training, infrastructure construction, promotion of agricultural production and trade, and food assistance.

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