Role of China in global food security

By Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan | Gwadar Pro Jul 31, 2023

Editor's Note: The author is Executive Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad and Regional Expert on China, BRI & CPEC. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

China has a great contribution to global food security which remained positive, productive, and participatory showing high human values and strong commitments to eradicate hunger, poverty, and food shortage from the world.

China’s constant supportive role of global food security in numerous regional as well as international organizations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is highly appreciated. Right from the beginning, it purposefully maintained closer collaboration in the fight against poverty and for zero hunger. Its own integrated model of poverty reduction (850 million rescues from extreme poverty) has become a prime example for the rest of the world.

Moreover, it never attached any specific economic, social, or political condition to its lavish contribution to global food security. Rather it always led the world through its friendly and collaborative policies in times of crisis. That is why China's efforts in eliminating poverty and ending hunger have greatly impressed the international communities. Its proposed South-South Cooperation Program (SSCP) has played an important role in global food security.

In this regard, after the formation of South-South Cooperation, China has always been rigorously involved and played a very important role in the SSCP and has donated $130 million to the FAO since 2009, exclusively for South-South and Triangular Cooperation since 1996.

To show its great policies of openness, inclusiveness, modernization, and transparency the Chinese government has also provided considerable agricultural technical knowledge to developing countries. According to official data of the FAQ, China has dispatched more than 1,000 Chinese experts and technicians, through the FAO, to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific thus positively contributing to global food security, which is commendable.

China is one of the founding members of the FAO. Since resuming its seat in the organization in 1973, China has maintained close cooperation with the UN agency, broadly joining and supporting its campaigns.

Unfortunately, a few people and Western media have been so-called blaming China for hoarding grains in the international market. Ironically, they demand more actions from China for global food security.

On the contrary, increasing incidents of climate change, pandemic aftereffects, ongoing regional as well as world economic instability, unending Russia-Ukraine conflict, US FED unwise monetary policies, unilateral socio-economic sanctions, and discarding of the Black Sea Grains Initiative (BSGI) have badly affected the global food supply chains, resultantly moving towards social disorder, chaos, and disintegration in many countries around the globe. Therefore, the policymakers of the West should not blame only China for price hikes, hoarding, inflation trends, and food shortage in the world.  

According to the official figures of the FAQ, more than 828 million people (nearly 10 percent of the world’s population) suffered from hunger in 2021, and nearly 30 percent faced moderate or severe food insecurity.

Remarkably, China has introduced and implemented comprehensive and holistic policies to further promote the public and private sectors which have made great efforts to maintain the food security in the country. It integrated policies in several areas ranging from production, transportation, market, and end-use and supported food security mechanisms, and strengthened agri-food system resilience. Since 2006, the government has set a farmland red-lining policy to keep no less than 120 million hectares of arable land for crop farming.

It is praiseworthy that it also outlines the development of 66.7 million hectares of high-quality farmland, with a particular eye on protecting the fertile black soil in northeast China. The 250 million smallholders produced more than 80 percent of food in China which enables it to maintain food security in the country.

Moreover, China has increased its infrastructure and agricultural investments to facilitate international food trade and strengthen its presence in the global market. As part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Global Development Initiative, which champions global cooperation on food problems, China pledged to advance Food Production Enhancement Action which is commendable.  

Despite false, fake, and fabricated propaganda, the Chinese government always attaches great importance to the issue of food security. Due to its policy maker’s sincere commitments, China has now achieved self-sufficiency in grain supply and absolute security of staple grains”. The year 2021 marks the seventh consecutive year that China secured an annual grain production of over 650 million tonnes. Additionally, China stands as the world’s largest grain producer and third largest grain exporter. China has the capability and confidence of being self-reliant in securing its own food supply. It is unnecessary for China to hoard grains in the international market. 

China actively advocates reducing food loss and food waste. According to official figures of the FAQ, if the world can reduce food loss by one percentage point, we can save up to 28 million tonnes of food which is enough to feed 70 million people. 

China, as the world's leading grain producer, cultivates less than 9 percent of the world's arable land yet contributes approximately one-quarter of global food production, successfully feeding its 1.4 billion population. This feat itself represents a significant contribution to global food security.

On its part, China has proposed its own approach and taken concrete actions. For instance, the Global Development Initiative prioritizes food security as one of the eight major areas of cooperation. Within the G20 framework, China has introduced the International Food Security Cooperation Initiative. 

Moreover, as the country providing the most financial aid, deploying the highest number of experts, and implementing the most projects under the South-South Cooperation framework of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, China has actively collaborated with more than 140 countries and regions in agricultural development.

China has also helped train more than 14,000 hybrid rice experts for more than 80 developing countries and initiated the construction of 13 agricultural development and poverty alleviation demonstration villages in Africa, effectively assisting developing nations in enhancing their agricultural production and food security.

Food is a fundamental human right that should not be easy prey to dirty geopolitics. The Western hyping against China will achieve nothing but further isolation and disintegration because China is undoubtedly the champion of global food security.  

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