CHINA / National

China emerges as major food donor
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-21 05:55

China surpassed Japan to become the world's third-largest food aid donor last year, following the United States and the European Union, a United Nations humanitarian agency said yesterday.

"In the same year it stopped receiving food aid from the World Food Programme (WFP), China emerged as the world's third-largest food aid donor in 2005," the WFP said in a statement.

According to the WFP, global food aid grew by 10 per cent to 8.2 million metric tons last year.

China accounted for more than half of the aid growth, contributing 577,000 tons of food, a jump of 260 per cent from the previous year, the agency said, citing the latest annual Food Aid Monitor from the International Food Aid Information System.

"China is playing a growingly important role in ensuring that the other hungry countries also have enough food to eat," WFP's Senior Public Affairs Officer Anthea Webb told China Daily last night.

"We are very impressed that it is matching its economic prowess with generosity for the hungry."

In particular, China last year made a donation of canned fish to the victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka through the WFP, Webb said in a telephone interview from Rome, Italy.

"Donations of food made the difference between life and death after the tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake and in Sudan, so we are extraordinarily grateful to all who gave last year," WFP Executive Director James Morris said in a statement.

According to the WFP, the US remained the world's most generous food aid donor, providing 4 million tons, or 49 per cent, of all donations.

Overall donations from the EU totalled 1.5 million tons.

Japan, the third-largest donor in 2004, was ranked fourth in 2005, donating more than 402,000 tons, according to the WFP statement.

Wheat and wheat flour were the main commodities donated, followed by coarse grains (mostly maize and maize meal) and rice, it said.

China's donations were directed to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Sri Lanka and a dozen other countries, according to the WFP statement.

The WFP began working in China in 1979, and ended its food aid assistance to the country at the end of 2005.

Thanks to China's strenuous efforts and international support, at least 300 million of its people had been lifted out of extreme poverty by 2005.

"With China's incredible progress on fighting hunger at home, there are surely many lessons we could apply abroad," Webb said.

The WFP is looking to China's vast wealth of talent, expertise and energy to assist some countries, which are still grappling with hunger, she said.

"For example, we are looking for experts in emergency relief operations and agronomists."

Vice-Minister of Agriculture Niu Dun said earlier that China is still a developing country with 26 million poverty-stricken rural residents.

While making its due contibution to WFP undertakings, Niu said China expected the WFP to continue supporting the development of China's poor rural areas.

(China Daily 07/21/2006 page1)