Qu Dongyu becomes first Chinese to head UN food agency FAO

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,

he said.

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

areas.

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

telephone interview.

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,

he said.

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)