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China goes from hungry nation to farm giant that feeds the world

WANG QIAN
Updated: Oct 16,2014 8:39 AM     China Daily

While China feeds the world’s largest population, it is also feeding starving people across the world, playing an important role in helping tackle global hunger, experts said.

“As a major responsible country, China is making full efforts to eliminate famine across the world,” said Wang Sangui, a professor of economics and rural development at Renmin University of China.

Wang said increasing investment in, and support for, agriculture is guaranteeing the country’s food production growth and making China a major supplier of food aid in the world.

He said 2005 was an important year, when the United Nations World Food Program officially ended aid to China, and the country has since emerged as one of the world’s major food aid donors.

The latest WFP report, released in 2013, showed that China provided 243,000 metric tons of food aid in 2012, a more than 100 percent year-on-year increase that made the country the fifth-largest donor, after the United States, Japan, Brazil and Canada.

China continues contributing aid to the world, most recently in early October, when it provided $6 million in food aid to the WFP to help Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, all hit by the Ebola virus, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The WFP estimated that 1 million people in the three countries will suffer from food shortages in the coming months because of the disease.

Wang conceded that China has its own resource limitations, but he was optimistic about conquering them.

“Even though China itself has a huge population, shrinking arable land and water scarcity, authorities are increasing investment in and strengthening support to agriculture through technological innovation to maintain steady growth in food production,” Wang said.

In the past four years, China planted hybrid rice, with an expected yield of 15 metric tons per hectare, in 8.7 million hectares of farmland in 17 provinces and regions, said Tang Ke, an official of Ministry of Agriculture.

Agriculture Minister Han Changfu noted in a news conference last year that China feeds 20 percent of the world population with 9 percent of the world’s arable land.

“We are transforming from food aid receiver to major food donor, showing our achievements in agriculture,” Han said.

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