Pledge not to stop rice exports lauded

By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-25 06:37

A senior UN official has praised China for not stopping rice exports amid an international food crisis, calling it a "politically responsible stance".

"This is not only a commitment from the business sector, but also a political signal from the Chinese government to stabilize global grain prices," Wang Ren, director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, told China Daily yesterday.

Wang's organization is a research alliance affiliated to the UN which tries to achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty through research in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, policy and the environment.

Yang Hong, general manager of COFCO - China's leading grain, edible oil and foodstuff import and export group - has reportedly said the company will not stop rice exports despite export restrictions by some major rice-producing countries such as Vietnam and India to ensure domestic supply.

The group exported 1.5 million tons of rice last year, or about 1 percent of the world's trade volume.

Global rice prices have risen sharply this year because of growing demand and poor weather conditions in some rice-producing countries.

The grain has climbed 25 percent this month, hitting a record, and the price has more than doubled in the past year.

Urging united efforts to apply high-yield technologies, Wang called on the international community to take "urgent action" to ensure supply. "We suggest the international community not only pay attention to the current food crisis, but also find solutions to increase supply in the long term," he said.

Wang and some colleagues, including Joachim von Braun, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute, have been making shuttle trips to key countries to find a solution to the current crisis.

China relies heavily on itself to feed its 1.3 billion people. Faced with a global food shortage, the government has vowed to spend 562.5 billion yuan ($80.1 billion) this year to support farmers and the rural sector, 30 percent more than last year.

The State Council, or the Cabinet, decided last month to spend another 25.25 billion yuan ($3.6 billion) in addition to this year's rural budget, mainly to subsidize farmers for the purchase of seeds, diesel, fertilizers and other production materials.

"China, a developing country, has taken swift and responsible measures to resolve the crisis," Wang said.

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