China to join UN to address food shortage in Asia, Pacific regions

Report
from Xinhua
Published on 05 May 2009 View Original
BEIJING, May 04, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- China will sponsor a UN program to promote its self-developed hybridized rice planting in countries facing food shortages, the United Nations Asian and Pacific Center for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery (UNAPCAEM) said at a conference on Food Security in the Asia Pacific here on Monday.

The program is aimed at helping relatively underdeveloped countries in the region to enhance grain production at a time of financial crisis, according to the UNAPCAEM, the project executor.

The program is expected to start in August without specific timetable available at present.

Hybridized rice technology, developed by Chinese scientists in the past three decades, could raise yield by 15 percent to 20 percent, or one more tonne for every hectare, UN statistics showed.

"The program, supported by the Chinese government, will play a positive role in lifting the grain production capacity and easing food shortage in developing countries of Asia and the Pacific," said Ai Yuxin, senior expert at UNAPCAEM.

China has set a model to address food shortages for the other countries in the region with a capability to produce over 95 percent of the grain needed by its 1.3 billion population, Ai told Xinhua.

According to the latest report released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) at the end of April, the financial crisis has become a food crisis threatening a population estimated at 583 million people in the region, about one eighth of the total.

"While food prices have fallen from last year's spike they remain high. Rising unemployment and falling incomes are putting additional pressure on the poor and vulnerable," the report said.

Another possible cause for food shortage is that once the global economy recovers, the pressures that drove up food prices last year will remain, according to the report.

As a regional institution of the UNESCAP, UNAPCAEM is the only UN subsidiary body with its headquarters in Beijing. Its function is to enhance environmentally sustainable agricultural and food production and apply green and modern agro-technology for the Asia Pacific.