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Op-Ed: China and FAO, a global partnership to defeat hunger and rural poverty

By José Graziano da Silva (People's Daily Online)    10:41, May 09, 2017

Director-General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva (File Photo: Xinhua)

When the Asia-Pacific region, as a whole, met and exceeded the Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty and hunger by the end of 2015, China stood out as a regional leader in these impressive achievements.

Now, with our sight firmly set to 2030 – the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – FAO, and indeed the entire world, is once again looking to China for its leadership, and doing so with confidence.

Two decades ago, China began to leverage the learning of its own achievements at home to help fight hunger and rural poverty in other countries. Since then, through its strong South-South Cooperation (SSC) partnership with FAO, China has become a remarkable contributor to the fight against hunger and rural poverty in many countries of the global South. As the major participant, supporter and promoter, within the framework of FAO’s SSC Initiative, China has deployed more than 1,000 Chinese experts and technicians to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. This invaluable sharing of technical know-how has helped to increase food and nutrition security and improve the livelihoods of more than 80,000 farmers and small-scale producers in the beneficiary countries.

In fact, China was the first country to establish an SSC strategic alliance with FAO through a Letter of Intent signed in 2006. Three years later, in 2009, the momentum increased with the generous donation of USD 30 million to a FAO trust fund, and an additional USD 50 million in 2015 for work on South-South Cooperation.

While this invaluable assistance has helped improve work in all thematic areas of agricultural production, and has clearly improved the lives of the most vulnerable, particularly in improving their nutrition, it has also worked to help countries formulate agricultural development strategies and policies, enhance mutual understanding and trust between recipient countries and China, and has helped to promote cooperation in trade and market supply chains.

Going forward, the SSC initiative creates a space to jointly share FAO and China poverty reduction strategies through the introduction of sustainable business models, developed to promote inclusive and efficient agribusiness at regional and subregional levels. Examples of this will be the sharing of new technologies emerging through the development of innovative E-Agriculture applications.

FAO and China’s journey to improve food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural and rural development around the world is being undertaken together. We share the same vision, determination and dedication to achieving these common goals. China’s leadership has been ever so solid.

In 2015, President Xi Jinping hosted a high-level round table event on SSC between China and the United Nations and made a solemn commitment to support common development and win-win cooperation among countries under the framework of the 2030 Agenda, including, among others, a fund of USD 2 Billion to support SSC. In 2016, Premier Li Keqiang attended the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, where he stated China’s perspective in the delivery of commitments to support other developing countries through the SSC initiative.

Today, collaboration between FAO and China has culminated with a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishing an even greater comprehensive strategic partnership signed last year. Indeed, this MoU will help FAO assist China in the delivery of its 13th Five Year Development Plan from 2016 to 2020, featuring a “New Normal” of economic development and support for the 17 SDGs.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have been lifted out of poverty thanks to the country’s strategic approaches to development, and China aims to completely eradicate rural poverty by 2020. These renewed efforts will go a long way to achieving the global goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.

China has also pledged to implement rural supply-side structural reforms, professional farmers’ development, agriculture modernization, the fight against climate change and promotion of low-carbon development – all areas in which FAO has in-depth experience to contribute.

Regionally and internationally, China is moving forward to support other developing countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, better known as the Belt and Road Initiative. It is an initiative that FAO strongly supports and it is a road that we will once again confidently navigate together as we move forward. 

The author is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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