FAO official on China's summer harvest

CNC
Added On July 6, 2014

Chinese farmers are reaping their crops, as the country is entering harvest season.
 
In China, with shrinking arable land and widespread land pollution, ensuring output to meet the demands of over a billion people is a very high priority.
 
What efforts have been made in China to reduce the proportion of its undernourished people? 
 
And how China's grain output affects the global food market?
 
In today's program, our CNC correspondent talks with an expert at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization to discuss the issue.
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): ZONG BEILEI, CNC correspondent
"Hello, this is Zong Beilei, in Rome. China feeds 20 percent of the world's population with only 9 percent of the world's arable land and 6 percent freshwater. It is never an easy thing to make self-sufficiency. According to the China's Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, China is poised for a record bumper harvest this summer, with an increase in grain output for the 11th straight year. This should allay worries about China's ability to feed its 1.3 billion people amid soaring soybean imports and unstable world grain market in recent years. Today I have invited FAO's expert on Economic and Social Development, Jomo Sundaram, to join us in the studio. Mr. Sundaram is FAO Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development and he will give us more details on the current picture."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): ZONG BEILEI, CNC correspondent
"Mr. Sundaram, thank you for coming. As we know, Chinese wheat production accounts for about one fifth of the world's wheat production, occupying an important position on the world grain market. So would you please evaluate the effect of China's summer grain harvest in the past ten consecutive year in stabilizing world food prices? "
 
FAO OFFICIAL ON CHINA'S SUMMER HARVEST
CHINA PRODUCES MORE FOOD
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JOMO SUNDARAM, FAO ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 
"Over the last 65 years China has made very significant progress in terms of increasing food production, including grain production. This has been especially true in the last 35 years and including the last decade. This is a very important and impressive development not only in feeding the world but also in stabilizing all prices. There have been very important developments. The number of undernourished people in China has gone down tremendously over recent decades and this is internationally recognized as a great achievement of China. We have also seen the fact that China imports a relatively small proportion of its food needs, it sometimes exports some of its grains and other foods. This means that China no longer expects to be fed by the rest of the world but rather is in a position to contribute in feeding the world. What we have seen has been that Reliance on cereal imports is down to about 5 percent. This figure is sometimes misleading because China is not only a main producer of wheat but is also a major producer of rice. While Chinese population may eat more and more wheat products, it has become very significant exporter of rice and this has important consequences in stabilizing not only the wheat market prices but also the rice market prices. Markets are now able to trust China stability to be self sufficient in grains including wheat and this has been a very important stabilising factor on international market.It is very imortant to recognise China in stabilising food prices generally including grain prices. "
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): ZONG BEILEI, CNC correspondent 
"According to FAO statistics, there are still more than 800 million people all over the world live in chronic hunger. Do you think the efforts that China has made in food security could be an example for other countries that are still in the situation of poverty?"
 
CHINA SECURES ARABLE LAND GROWTH
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JOMO SUNDARAM, FAO ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 
"It is very important to recognize China's achievements and the lessons it offers to many countries. But we also have to consider the very specific ecological resources and economic conditions which exist in many other countries. China emphasis on agricultural land growth especially during the 1980's and 1990's was a very good example. This contrasted with the situation in most areas of the world where there was a declining emphasis on agricultural production and especially food production. The issue is not ensuring food production only but also economic growth in the farms and outside of the farms. This is both in the rural and urban areas. The lessons of village enterprise development in China are very important for other countries to learn from. It is important to recognize job creation both in the city and the country side. This is a very remarkable achievement concerning China. A third element in China success is the emphasis on human resources development. Special policies, particularly in poor rural areas are very important. Not only in terms of trying to ensure that people in the country side have access to education, they have access to nutrition and micro nutrients. "
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): ZONG BEILEI, CNC correspondent 
"What do you believe are the main factors that threaten the international food security? In what areas could countries around the world cooperate to eliminate the food security threats?"
 
FOUR KEY FACTORS AT WORK
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JOMO SUNDARAM, FAO ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
"FAO has played a historically leading role in identifying four important categories to consider when thinking about global food security. One is the question of availability. Whether supply is there, whether we are producing enough whether it is disrupted by politics or weather conditions and so on. These are important considerations. Availability is important. Secondly is access. Even if you have enough food, but people do not have the means to obtain that food, they do not have money to buy that food because they are unemployed or because they have no means to grow their own food. All these fundamentally affect their life chances. It is therefore important to pay attention to access and access is not easy to measure but is a very important consideration. The Third element is food utilization. We can not associate food utilization with nutrition.  FAO is organizing together with WHO in November this year the 2nd international conference on nutrition which will pay attention to many of these issues especially issues related to the food system. Stability is the fourth element, whether you have enough availability, access and good health conditions to utilize, what you are eating is an important question. Availability, access, nutrition utilization and stability are the four key dimensions of food security which the international community must pay attention to. All four are important and if we focus on one or two, we will miss the picture with very significant and severe consequences. "