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China Agricultural University bestows Honorary Professorship on FAO Director-General

Chinese scholars urged to support fight against hunger

Photo: ©FAO/Roberto Faidutti
Chinese rice expert in Ghana assists a local rice farmer.
3 October 2012, Beijing/Rome - Scientists and researchers must help transform the social, environmental, political and economic situation in rural areas, where most of the world's hungry live, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told undergraduate and graduate students and academics at the China Agricultural University in Beijing today. During the visit, he also had an Honorary Professorship bestowed on him by the university.

"In the years to come, feeding the world in a sustainable way will mean finding ways to produce more food, more efficiently, while minimizing the impact on natural and financial resources," Graziano said in a speech at China's largest and most important agricultural university.

"We will depend on each new generation of scholars and researchers - and each one of you here today - to help lead the technological innovation and exchange of ideas that will be necessary to do this," added the FAO Director-General.

In thanking the China Agricultural University for the Honorary Professorship he received, Graziano da Silva stressed the importance of the academic world in the fight against hunger.

"The fight against hunger needs the academic world, with its knowledge, insights, and intellectual and moral thinking. But academia will take us much farther when we apply what we learn in the field, and if we can bring the traditional knowledge that exists in the fields back into academia and to our public policy work. To do so, we need to move beyond the university walls," said Graziano da Silva.

"This spirit has followed me throughout my life. It is the same spirit that exists in the China Agriculture University and in the country itself," added the Director-General.

During Graziano da Silva's first official visit as Director-General to Beijing, he also awarded Premier Wen Jiabao with the Agricola Medal and FAO and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation in the country and expand China's participation in FAO's South-South Cooperation programme.

China feeds 21 percent of world

Graziano praised China for the "tremendous achievement" of feeding some 21 percent of the world's population and making steady progress overall in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries and promoting rural development. He noted that Chinese government policy has made a priority of food security, sustainable rural and urban development and increased both agricultural and alternative livelihoods in rural areas.

"However, globally, the success in expanding food output has not been enough to overcome hunger," he said. "Around 900 million people in the world face hunger every day of their lives, and another 2 billion are affected by other forms of malnutrition, including the health-damaging effects caused by over-consumption of food."

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