The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has elected Qu Dongyu — China’s vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs — as its next director-general.
Qu will be the first head of the agency from China and succeeds Brazil’s José Graziano da Silva. He’ll begin his four-year term on 1 August.
The FAO wields considerable influence on almost every perspective of food and agriculture, together with global and local policies, and helps to form agricultural research agendas. With around 11,500 staff, it is the UN’s largest professional agency and has a US$2.6-billion budget for 2018–19.
Qu has stated that his priorities will include improving agriculture in tropical countries where poverty and hunger are rampant and helping arid nations to address the agricultural challenges that come with drought and water shortages.
Qu, is the son of a rice farmer, is a biologist by education and holds a Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental sciences from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. He was previously a policy researcher in agriculture and rural development on the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and became China’s vice-minister of agriculture in 2015.
Qu outlined several of his priorities for the agency at an FAO meeting in April. He called for changes in the production and consumption of agricultural goods worldwide to depreciate their environmental impact. Information technology and e-commerce for farmers’ present alternatives to encourage growth in typically poverty-stricken rural areas, he added.
The minister additionally stated that the FAO, which is based in Rome, must strengthen its core position of collecting and propagating global knowledge, and supporting its members with advice on coverage, technology, and data. The agency additionally must make more partnerships with the private sector, and outside bodies such as non-governmental organizations, Qu added.