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FAO Praises China's Food Supply Success

China's fight against hunger has been a great success, said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, on Thursday at the ongoing 27th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific.

"We are encouraged by the fact that China is feeding one-quarter of world's population with only 7 percent of the world's arable land," he told reporters.

Diouf attributes China's success to the priority the Chinese government gives to agriculture and its huge investment in the sector.

Irrigation is a major focus within the sector. So far, 50 percent of its arable land has been equipped with irrigation facilities. The nation's goal is to increase irrigated arable land by 1 percent each year.

In addition, China has adopted policies prohibiting deforestation along the banks of major rivers, which helps to reduce erosion, silt accumulation and flood risks.

Diouf pointed out that China's agricultural sector still faces some problems. The income disparity between rural and urban areas, and between the coastal and inland areas, has led to a migration of the rural population to the country's urban and coastal areas.

With its high GDP growth, food demand will increase, especially in high-quality foods, said Diouf. The country will also face the consequences of becoming a member of the WTO and the effects of the international market.

Diouf also noted China's grain output decrease, reduction in reserves and increase in demand in the past several years, saying that climate changes have contributed to the output decrease.

He also said that the Chinese government is naturally well aware of the problems, and is developing policies to address them.

In the past 20 years, China has adopted a series of reform measures to improve agricultural productivity.

Currently, the total supply of major agricultural products has shifted from chronic shortage to a general balance against total demand, with some surplus in good harvest years. The number of undernourished people plummeted from 250 million in 1978 to 29 million in 2003.

(People's Daily May 21, 2004)

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