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FAO has a new director general, Qu Dongyu from China

Tuesday, June 25th 2019 - 07:19 UTC
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Qu Dongyu of China was elected on Sunday Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Qu Dongyu received a total of 108 votes out of 191 cast, constituting a majority in the first round.

The election took place during the 41st session of the FAO conference (22-29 June 2019), the highest governing body of the Organization, located in Rome. 

Qu Dongyu, who was born in 1963, is currently Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China.

Qu Dongyu will be FAO's ninth Director-General since the Organization was founded on October 16, 1945. The term of the new Director-General, who will succeed Brazil’s José Graziano da Silva, will start on 1 August 2019 and run to 31 July 2023.

Qu, 55, a biologist by training, won 108 votes, followed by France’s Catherine Geslain-Laneelle with 71 votes and Georgia’s Davit Kirvalidze with 12, according to official results. The United States had backed Kirvalidze.

The FAO, which has over 11,500 employees around the globe, works closely with other U.N. agencies to achieve the goal of a hunger-free world by 2030. Today, more than 800 million people are facing hunger and many experts doubt that the 2030 goal will be reached.

Prior to the vote, Qu said he aims to focus on hunger and poverty eradication, tropical agriculture, drought land farming, digital rural development and better land design through transformation of agricultural production. An expert on agriculture and rural areas, he has worked in the field for more than 30 years.

Ahead of his election, Qu rejected claims that he would be beholden to instructions from Beijing, pledging that China would follow “FAO regulations and rules.” He also defended his credentials, saying he is “a scientist” educated in Europe, America and China.

Since being appointed vice-minister in 2015, Qu has spearheaded measures such as reforms for rural areas; using information technologies to help agriculture; instituting exchange mechanisms on urban agriculture and promoting brands and specialty industries.

Qu has also been in charge of China’s agri-business co-operation with Asian, African and Latin American countries and China’s main trading partners of produce.

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