Business / Economy

China is UN's valuable partner for food security

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-09-28 14:34

ROME -- Speaking ahead of a five-day trip to China, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said China is playing a key role in the effort to reduce worldwide hunger, and called on the country to play an equally important role in helping to stabilize food prices.

The two topics, which FAO general director Jose Graziano da Silva said are inextricably linked, are among the central issues of focus for the Rome-based organization under Graziano's leadership.

Graziano, who spoke to Xinhua in an exclusive interview recently in his FAO office, will travel to China end-September after attending UN meetings in New York. He said the timing of the China visit is important to him because FAO's founding month was October, 67 years ago.

"October has always been an important month here at FAO," Graziano said. "It is significant that October will start this year with the trip to China."

Graziano said the world was on its way to reaching the Millennium Goal of reducing by half the number of people in the world suffering from hunger, thanks in no small part to steps taken in China.

Graziano said China had been able to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by 40 percent and the number of under nourished people by 50 percent.

"Because China's population is so big, progress made in China has a big impact on the world," Graziano said.

Now, Graziano says he wants to ask China to help with another problem that will help further reduce the number of hungry people in the world -- stabilizing food prices and improving world food security.

"We have seen a growing contribution from China in these areas and we would like to see the contribution grow still further," he said. "I think the issue of South-South cooperation is essential in the world, and for it to work China must play a big role."

By "South-South," Graziano was referring to a shorthand for countries in the developing world to cooperate among themselves. The 62-year-old agronomist is a native of Brazil, another key South economy.

"We are moving from the old paradigm of donor nations and nations that receive aid," he said. "Developing countries have a role to play in their own efforts to move forward and no country has a bigger role than China, which is already playing a role elsewhere in Asia, in Africa, and in Latin America. I would like to see that continue."

Graziano called on countries to build up food stocks to help smooth out periods where prices might temporarily jump, and to work to curb reactionary changes in import or export policy that might have an impact on world markets.

"China has been very supportive of food security issues, and we want China to do more," Graziano said. "What we have learned is that you cannot have food security in only one country. It's not a national problem in any country. It's a regional and international problem."

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