UN agency to phase out food aid to country
SHENZHEN: A container ship transporting the last grain donation from the United Nations World Food Programme's (WFP) docked in Shenzhen yesterday, putting an end to the nation's 25-year reliance on UN food aid.
The vessel, "Blue Dream," carrying 43,450 tons of Canadian wheat worth US$7.2 million, arrived at Chiwan Port in western Shenzhen at around 10 am after 20 days at sea.
Four inland Chinese areas, including Northwest China's Gansu and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, North China's Shanxi and South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, will be the last beneficiaries, according to Wei Tianrui, a shipping officer from the WFP China office.
"We will phase out food aid because China now can afford to eliminate extreme poverty by itself," said Douglas Broderick, the WFP's China Representative.
"We and the Chinese Government agreed upon the issue in February 2001."
More than half of the donation will be transported to Gansu in an effort to alleviate poverty while Ningxia and Shanxi will get 5,000 tons each. Guangxi will receive the remaining 8,450 tons.
The unloading of the cargo began yesterday evening after samples of the wheat passed all inspection and quarantine tests. The wheat is to be fully unloaded in five days given the port's round-the-clock operations, Wei said.
"The WFP has contributed greatly to the alleviation of poverty in some poor areas of China," said Liu Fuhe, spokesman for the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. "These programmes have proven successful and efficient."
The WFP began providing food aid to China in 1979, helping more than 30 million poor Chinese meet their immediate food needs and helping them construct rural infrastructure through programmes exchanging food for employment and training.
The WFP began reducing the amount of the donation from its peak of 300,000 tons a year to 60,000 tons last year as it believed China was able to eliminate pockets of extreme poverty on its own.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing yesterday that China will gradually make donations in cash to the WFP based on its capability.
Dominique Frankefort, deputy country director of the WFP, flew to Shenzhen from Beijing yesterday afternoon to oversee the transfer of the last food donation.
(China Daily 04/08/2005 page2)