China pledges $50 million to FAO in support of South-South cooperation

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`Silent crisis of hunger and poverty a major challenge and common responsibility` - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Rome -- China has announced a $50 million donation to FAO to support the Organization's program of 'South-South cooperation' to improve food security and promote sustainable agricultural development over the next five years.

Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang made the announcement today in a speech at FAO ahead of tomorrow's World Food Day celebrations. It was his first visit to a UN agency since assuming office.

Tackling the 'silent crisis' of hunger and poverty is 'a major challenge and common responsibility,' the premier said.

'Food for all is a fundamental human right, upon which all other human rights depend. China has a bitter memory of hunger and wants to see a world free from hunger and poverty. We are willing share our technologies and expertise, without reservation,' he added.

Attending the speech were country representatives to FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), who along with civil society groups and others are gathered in Rome this week for a meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Thanking China for its commitment, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: 'We share the same principle that the basic task facing us today is the eradication of hunger. We can achieve it within our lifetimes.'

The FAO head praised China's efforts to tackle food insecurity both at home and abroad. He noted that the country has already achieved the 1st Millennium Development Goal's hunger target of halving the proportion of its population experiencing chronic hunger, ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Since 1990, China has successfully lifted 138 million people out of chronic hunger. This means that globally, two out of every three people who escaped hunger since 1990 were in China, Graziano da Silva noted.

Success in tackling hunger

China's strides on food security have been achieved through a combined approach, Li said, including providing incentives to family farmers to unleash their productive potential, supporting science and technological innovation, as well as implementing institutional reforms and providing support for agricultural extension and farmer cooperatives.

In addition to its efforts to modernize food production, the premier also highlighted the 'fundamental role' of family farms, saying that family farmers require support to help them diversify activities, innovate, and band together in cooperatives.

The number of farmer cooperatives in China has reached 1 million in recent years, he said, allowing small-scale producers to join forces and operate at larger scales.

And Li stressed the need to not only boost food production, but to do so in a way that is ecologically sustainable, in order to 'pass on fertile land and blue skies to future generations.'

A helping hand

Overseas, China has been one of the strongest proponents of the South-South approach to development cooperation.

In 2008 it established a $30 million FAO trust fund to support technical field missions with Chinese agricultural experts in developing countries. So far, 30 thousand Chinese experts have shared their knowledge and experience in over 100 countries. Over one hundred thousand farmers and their families have already benefitted from this collaboration and thousands of technicians have been trained in appropriate technical solutions.

Premier Li stressed China's commitment to helping other developing nations, pledging that China 'will always be an active force to safeguard food security, working tirelessly to build a world free of hunger.'

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