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Poverty Relief Still an Arduous Task

About 120 million Chinese people suffer from malnutrition and the country's poverty problems are still pressing, said Vice-Agriculture Minister Zhang Baowen at a conference to mark the 23rd World Food Day on Thursday.

As the world most populous nation, China had taken a series of measures to feed its people well. In 1996, China's food production exceeded 500 million tons for the first time. Output of major agricultural products met demand and even provided a surplus in bumper harvests.

Statistics show the country's poor population had decreased from 250 million in 1978 to 28.2 million in 2002.

However, China's anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs were still seriously challenged by population growth, lack of land and water resources, and erosion and desertification, said Zhang at the conference in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Gamal M. Ahmed, representative of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in China, Mongolia and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said all countries should take concrete measures to eliminate poverty and hunger, and to safeguard the basic human right to nutrition.

Statistics show 840 million people around the world suffer from poverty and malnutrition, with 799 million in developing nations.

In 1979, FAO decided to start an annual World Food Day, which has fallen on Oct. 16 since 1981. The 2003 World Food Day theme is "International Alliance against Hunger."

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2003)

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