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UN says China has role to play in fighting world hunger
China Daily
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UN says China has role to play in fighting world hunger

The World Food Programme is closely following China's food policymaking and global aid initiatives, according to the United Nations agency's China Representative Zhao Bing, who praised the country's food supply situation as a bright spot against rising world hunger over the past decade.

Speaking in Beijing early last month on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, Zhao said the world is "not on track" to hit the UN's sustainable development goal that aims to end global hunger by 2030.

"Hunger is currently a very grim challenge facing the international community," he said.

The second goal of the UN's sustainable development agenda is to create a hunger-free world by 2030.

However, hunger and food insecurity have been increasing since 2015 due to a mix of factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, regional conflicts, climate change and deepening inequalities.

UN data showed that by 2022, around 735 million people — or 9.2 percent of the world's population — lived with chronic hunger, which the UN said was a "staggering rise" from the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

Another 2.4 billion people faced moderate to severe food insecurity, meaning they lacked sufficient nourishment, up 391 million from 2019, the UN said.

Zhao said Chinese aid programs have been a major source of funding and personnel for his agency, which has been providing humanitarian aid at the forefront of nearly all crises ranging from those in Yemen and Afghanistan to Syria and the Gaza Strip.

He cited the South-South Cooperation Fund as an example. China created the fund in 2015 with initial spending of $2 billion to support South-South cooperation and assist developing countries in implementing their agendas. Two years later, the Chinese government provided another $1 billion to the fund.

WFP's extensive partnerships with the private sector, such as agricultural companies and research institutes, are also helping build resilience against emerging challenges such as climate change.

"China is a very important country not only in providing material aid but also in offering many solutions for other developing countries," Zhao said. "In this regard, WFP and China have the potential to continue cooperation in many aspects."

He said his agency has valued China's food policies and antipoverty expertise by placing one of its two centers of excellence in China — with the other being in Brazil.

Zhao said the NPC meeting — during which the central government work report was unveiled — offered a peep into China's approach to food production, rural vitalization and even its intentions for international aid programs.

"We hope to understand the role that China plays as an important country in multilateralism, especially in an age of unprecedented and significant changes," he said.

Chinese grain output last year topped 650 million metric tons for the ninth consecutive year, which officials said was the country's 20th bumper harvest in a row.

"With the number of farmers decreasing, it is not an easy task to maintain farming areas and other agricultural resources, but that is what the Chinese government has managed to achieve," Zhao said.

He praised China's technology-driven approach to bolstering food security, noting that innovation now contributes to more than 60 percent of the growth in agricultural output value in the world's largest food consumer.

Efforts to step up investment in breeding technologies, roll out machines tailor-made for various geographies, increase the rate of mechanical farming and promote better farming techniques to farmers have paid off, Zhao added.

China DailyShen Yi

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