by Liu Yu, Ge Chen
ROME, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Proper agricultural policies and reforms, and impressive increases in domestic food production helped China meet the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the chief of the UN's food agency says.
"China has already made outstanding progress to this goal, in part due to policies that support targeted investments in agriculture, reforms in the agricultural system, and impressive increases in domestic food production," Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told Xinhua in a recent interview.
On Monday, FAO awarded a prize to China, along with Chile and Morocco, for having met the MDG-1 target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015, as compared with 1990-91 figures, in a special ceremony at the agency's headquarters.
According to the FAO, China reduced the prevalence of undernourishment from 22.9 percent in 1990-92 to 11.4 percent in 2011-13, bringing the estimated number of chronically hungry people down from 272.1 million to 158 million.
Graziano da Silva highlighted FAO's appreciation toward China for its steps of putting policies in place to address a potential contradiction between farmland and growing urbanization.
He highly praised China's policies of maintaining the current size of farmland for agriculture, setting a "bottom line" to contain urban erosion of land for agricultural production.
FAO was willing to work with China to further intensify agricultural production in areas of high potential and improve efficiency in sustainable ways, he said.
"Through FAO-supported training and knowledge-sharing programs, for example, farmers in developing countries are conserving and restoring nutrients to the soil, and making greater use of natural or low-chemical methods for processes like pest and weed control," Graziano da Silva said.
"Early trials show growers can lower crop water needs by 30 percent and energy costs of production by up to 60 percent," he said.
Meanwhile, the FAO chief also voiced hope China would continue to make efforts to achieve greater success under the framework of the Zero Hunger Challenge, an anti-hunger blueprint launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.
He praised a plan unveiled by the Chinese government in January 2014 for rural reforms, further modernization of agriculture, and improvement of farmers' incomes.
"The government has outlined a number of measures to accomplish these objectives. These include speeding up the transfer of rural land, offering more subsidies to family farms and farmers' cooperatives, and supporting further research," he said. "The government has also listed ensuring the security of grain supplies and those of other major farm products as one of its priorities."
Graziano da Silva called for all efforts to realize goals set in the Zero Hunger Challenge, which will lead to a food secure and sustainable future.
"Reaching and maintaining such standards will require the involvement of every facet of society, including the government, businesses, researchers and scientists, local communities and families," he said.