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China, LatAm forge $50mn agriculture fund
May 7, 2013, 11:11 am


China is almost completely self-sufficient in rice, wheat and maize, according to official data [Xinhua]

Latin America and the Caribbean will forge a strategic partnership with China on food security as well as agricultural and rural development, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s regional office in Santiago said on Monday.

Entering the alliance, the two sides will hold an agriculture ministers’ joint forum in Beijing on June 8-9 and set up a 500,000-ton joint food reserve to deal with natural disasters and offer humanitarian aid.

Officials from the Chinese government and representatives from more than 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries met in Chili to prepare for the agriculture ministers’ forum.

During the meeting, the two sides agreed to create a special fund of $50 million to promote agriculture cooperation by establishing eight research and development centres in the region.

The cooperation proposal was first made in June 2012 by the then Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao during a meeting of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago.

China’s agriculture minister Han Changfu has in April this year described food security as a “grave challenge” and said it was “top of the agenda” for his government.

China is almost completely self-sufficient in rice, wheat and maize, achieving an internal supply rate of 98.1 per cent and expecting a 10th consecutive bumper harvest this year, according to official data.

However, experts at the Asian Financial Forum earlier this year warned that China must invest overseas to ensure its food security.

“China and India have to open to global markets like Australia, Africa and Latin America, and invest in these countries’ agricultural production for food security,” said Fan Shenggen, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Brazil has already announced plans to cement agricultural ties with its biggest trade partner China.

The Brazilian Congress is expected to vote on a bill facilitating China’s participation in land purchasing in Brazil, announced agriculture minister Antonio Andrade last week.

With inputs from Agencies

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