(China Foreign Affairs University)
Mr. Zhao Jinjun, President of China Foreign Affairs University,
Mr Sura, advisor to the independent chairperson of FAO’s Executive Council
Ambassador Cai Fangbai,
Vice-President Cheng Tao,
Your Excellency, Mr. Victor Sikonina, ambassador of the Republic of Madagascar to China,
Your Excellency, Mr. Charles Mumbala Nzanku, ambassador of the D.R.Congo to China,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the “China and French-Speaking African Countries Jointly Discuss on Global Food Security and Geopolitics in the New Millennium” seminar held by China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), my Alma Mater. CFAU is a renowned university in China, well known in the fields of diplomacy and international relations. In recent years, the university has increased Africa research, especially on French-speaking African countries, and achieved a series of positive results. On behalf of the African Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I’d like to express my gratitude to CFAU for your contributions to promoting academic exchanges and cooperation and boosting friendship between the peoples of China and Africa.
The theme of today’s seminar is “food security”, which is an important yet urgent issue faced by the international community. As an old Chinese saying goes, “Food is People’s Primary Necessity”. Food security bears on national development and people’s wellbeing, and is the basis for economic development and social stability for countries around the world. It is also an important prerequisite for world peace and sustainable development. In spite of the continuous improvement in agricultural productivity, the world today is still faced with the impact of resources scarcity, population growth, financial capital speculations, climate change, and biofuel development. The international community, developing countries in particular, is confronted with severe challenges in food security. The food crisis sweeping the globe in 2008 led to chaos in over 30 poor countries. Statistics released by FAO recently shows that the international food price has again come close to its historic peak, and the year 2011 might see another food crisis in the world.
Africais the continent with the largest number of developing countries, and also a region suffering most from food shortage. According to FAO, among the 39 countries of the globe that are in shortage of food and heavily rely on the international market, 26 are from Sub-Sahara Africa. The population of Africa makes up nearly 1/6 of the global total, but its food output is only 1/20 of the world total. In 2009, about 5 million Africans died from hunger and related diseases. The challenge in food security for Africa, on the one hand, is due to its low grain productivity led by its level of economic development, while on the other, is a result of obvious lack of development assistance on agriculture by the international community. Moreover, an unfair international food trading system created by trade barriers and high subsidies on agricultural products also has a negative impact on Africa’s food supply.
In my view, to address food security, the countries first and foremost need to rely on their own efforts to increase input on agriculture, improve agriculture technology and infrastructure to raise grain output. At the same time, in face of food security, a global issue, the countries need to strengthen cooperation to tackle the challenge. On the basis of respecting the sovereignty of the developing countries, the international community should increase support to these countries in terms of capital and technology, working to ensure that the Doha Round of negotiations can achieve positive results, establishing an international trading order on agricultural products that is fair, equitable, sustainable and stable, improving food governance, and setting up an effective global food security assurance system. At the same time, the international community should take all factors into consideration and take a comprehensive approach to deal with the relationship between food security, economic growth, social progress, climate change and energy safety, so as to realize sustained food security.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Chinese government has always given high priority to the issue of agriculture and food supply. By mainly relying on itself for food supply, China has made great achievements in agricultural development that has won universal recognition. China feeds around 20% of the global population with 9% of the farmland and 6.5% of the fresh water resources of the world. Over the years, China has met over 95% of its food needs by itself. This is a miracle, and also a great contribution China has made to global food security and world peace and development.
The Chinese government has been active in international agricultural and food exchanges and cooperation, and done its best to help Africa and other developing countries. Since 2009, China has exported 55.1 tons of grain to food-lacking countries in Asia and Africa, provided food assistance worth RMB263 million Yuan to other countries, and donated US$6.5 million to the WFP. A trust fund with a committed donation of US$30 million from China to FAO has been launched.
Over the years China has carried out fruitful cooperation with Africa on agriculture. Since the inauguration of FOCAC, agriculture and food security have become the priority areas of their cooperation. By 2009, China had helped 49 African countries to develop 142 agricultural projects, completed 51 projects on agricultural product processing, and offered training to 6000 agricultural technicians. At the Fourth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC, China decided to, in the following 3 years, send 50 specialist teams on agriculture to African countries, train 2000 agricultural technicians, and increase the number of demonstration centers on agricultural technology to 20. The fundamental purpose for China to carry out agricultural cooperation with African countries is to raise their agricultural productivity, and strengthen food assurance for them. China is willing to work together with the international community to support Africa and other developing countries in expanding their agriculture, and thus making its due contribution to the actual realization of food security in the world.
The friends present here are experts in agriculture and economics from renowned Chinese and international research institutes, agricultural companies, universities and colleges. I hope you can make the best of the seminar to compare notes with one another, share experience, and contribute your suggestions and proposals to the strengthening of international agricultural cooperation and realization of global food security. Finally I wish the seminar a full success. Thank you!