ROME, Qu Dongyu on Sunday became the first
Chinese national to be elected to head the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organization, clinching the post in the first round of voting.
Qu, 55, a biologist by training, won 108 votes, followed by Catherine
GeslainLaneelle of France with 71 votes and Georgia's Davit Kirvalidze with
12, according to official results.
His election to the helm of the Romebased agency, which brings together
194 member countries, comes as the fight to eradicate world hunger takes a
blow from global warming and wars.
Hunger blamed on the combined effects of extreme and erratic weather,
economic slowdowns, and conflicts, particularly in Africa and the Middle
East, has risen for the past three years. FAO has sounded the alarm over
rising food insecurity and high levels of malnutrition, and Qu will have to
ramp up support for smallholder farms and fisheries to combat the ills of
intensive farming, food waste and poverty.
The successor to Brazil's Jose Graziano da Silva will have to put policies
in place now in preparation for feeding a world population expected to
increase from 7.7 billion people to 9.7 billion in 2050.
The UN agency tackles issues that are important for both advanced and
developing countries, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil, from the European Council on
Foreign Relations (ECFR), told AFP.
They include food security, (and) agricultural development, but also agro
business, trade, biotechnology and, increasingly, climate and environment,
Epidemic, trade war
Many analysts had seen Qu as the frontrunner to win the fouryear post.
Beijing has made a big push to get more senior jobs at the UN in the last
few years, Richard Gowan, an analyst at the Brusselsbased International
Crisis Group, told AFP.
The country is currently grappling with a swine fever epidemic that is
decimating its livestock, as well as a trade war with the United States that
is forcing it to go elsewhere for cereals and soya.
The crises have pushed the food sector to the top of the government's
priorities, Beijing said in its bid letter, seen by AFP.
Qu, a biologist by training, has 30 years experience, from developing
digital technologies in agriculture, to introducing microcredit in rural
Georgia's Kirvalidze, a former agriculture minister, believes the private
sector has a key role to play in eliminating global hunger, he said in a
It is vital that small family farmers have market access, with FAO acting
as a broker of change to launch publicprivate partnerships to that end,
French candidate GeslainLaneelle, former head of the European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA), has spent her entire career in the agricultural and agri
food sectors at the highest level in France.
The first woman to vie for the job has said the FAO should help develop
value chains around agriculture, fisheries and forestry, a reference to the
storage, processing and distribution of food.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)