November 12, 2019
Latest News

First Chinese national elected head of UN food agency

By Belén Delgado

Rome, Jun 23 (efe-epa).- China's agricultural deputy minister Qu Dongyu was Sunday elected head of the United Nations’ food agency.

Qu, the first Chinese national to hold the role, was elected as director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization after one round of voting in the Italian capital Rome.

He received 108 votes out of a total of 191, ahead of French candidate Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, who had the support of the European Union and won 71 ballots.

Former Georgian minister Davit Kirvalidze came third place with 12 votes.

Qu will start his four-year mandate in August, replacing Brazilian José Graziano da Silva.

He will be the ninth director-general of the international organization which was created in 1945 and is based in Rome.

After winning the elections, he expressed his thanks to his country "after these 40 years of successful reform and open politics."

He promised commitment to the sustainable development agenda promoted by the UN, as well as being "transparent, impartial and neutral."

Qu has held his role as a deputy minister since 2015 and has been in charge of the mechanism of cooperation within FAO and of agricultural relations with Asia, Africa and Latin America.

He was born in the southern province of Hunan in 1963, is married and has a daughter.

Educated in China and the Netherlands, he was deputy governor of the autonomous region of Ningxia and deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, where he worked as a plant researcher.

His appointment as the head of the FAO demonstrates Beijing's increased interest in international positions.

Qu has proposed to "innovate in cooperation models" and reinforce partnerships with other organizations.

He also highlighted his interest in focusing on the eradication of hunger in poor regions, modernizing agriculture in tropical and dry areas, and promoting digitization of the sector.

"No organization can act without the vitamin M of 'money'," Qu joked and said that he wants to increase the FAO's resources by 10 percent each year.

During his campaign, he met with G20 agriculture ministers in Japan, participated in regional meetings and visited several Latin American countries, earning the support of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

China is a member of the G77, a broad coalition of developing nations that expressed a desire to continue "consolidating" their relationship.

Qu referred to the "vulnerability" of the agricultural market, as among the important challenges to address, as well as climate change and transboundary plant and animal diseases.

The number of people who go hungry has increased in recent years to affect 821 million, according to UN statistics.

It has also warned of a rapid increase in other forms of malnutrition such as obesity and being overweight, which already affects around two billion people globally.

Sustainable management of natural resources to feed a growing population is another of the FAO's priorities. EFE-EPA

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