"However, the FAO secretary general warned the positive results achieved by many countries should not make the world relax over undernourishment and poverty."
Rome, June 17 - The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Monday recognised China's outstanding progress against hunger for having achieved the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) -- halving the proportion of its undernourished people since 1990.
During a ceremony held at FAO headquarters in Rome, FAO Secretary General Jose Graziano da Silva awarded a diploma to Chinese Deputy Agriculture Minister Chen Xiaohua, reports Xinhua.
Morocco was awarded along with China for halving the proportion of hungry population a year in advance the deadline scheduled at the end of 2015, while Chile, which had already reached the first MDG last year, received a diploma for halving the number of people underfed.
One year ago we celebrated the first 38 countries that had achieved the MDG target, three years in advance of 2015, Graziano da Silva said. Now we have come together to recognise three more countries for their efforts.
These targets were set long time ago with the common aim to end hunger in the world, the secretary general recalled, firstly in 1996, when 180 countries gathered in Rome for the World Food Summit; and secondly in 2000, when the eight MDGs were established during a UN General Assembly in New York.
The first and primary of those MDGs aimed specifically at halving and then eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.
As for China, the improvements along this line were regarded by FAO as outstanding.
The Chinese government reduced the prevalence of undernourishment from 22.9 percent of its total population in 1990/1991 to 11.4 percent in 2013, FAO confirmed. In terms of quantity, chronically hungry people were reduced to 158 million from 272.1 million.
The Chinese government has been engaged in achieving these goals for many years, always giving priority to food and agricultural production, the Chinese government's representative said.
The Chinese deputy agriculture minister expressed gratitude on behalf of China to the FAO for its support and assistance.
Chen also pointed out that Chinese food production reached its highest level in history with the grain output exceeding 600 million tonnes in 2013, the 10th consecutive year of increase registered in grain harvests.
Overall China is now self-sufficient in the production of most primary food, such as oil, sugar, meat, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, and fish, Chen added.
Several FAO reports also highlighted how China was able to feed 20 percent of the world's population with only nine percent of the world's arable land and six percent of freshwater.
This remarkable achievement, according to the Chinese deputy agriculture minister, was partly due to the promotion of innovative techniques in order to improve farmers' production capacity.
China in future would focus its efforts in further improving food quality and safety, Chen said.
The government promotes high-quality crops so as to improve the quality of food, and these crops constituted around 96 percent of 2013 overall plantation, he said.
The government is also strengthening the quality control over agricultural products and the prevention of diseases among livestock, he added.
However, the FAO secretary general warned the positive results achieved by many countries should not make the world relax over undernourishment and poverty.
We should not forget that the glass is half full, but is also half empty, Graziano da Silva said at the ceremony. We have to move forward, going beyond halving hunger and eradicate it.