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China to sponsor UN rice-planting program

CHINA will sponsor a UN program to promote its self-developed hybrid rice planting in countries facing food shortages, the United Nations Asian and Pacific Center for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery said in Beijing at a conference on food security in the Asia Pacific yesterday.

The program is aimed at helping relatively underdeveloped countries in the region to enhance grain production at a time of financial crisis, according to UNAPCAEM, the project's executor.

The program is expected to start in August, though no timetable has been made available yet.

Hybridized rice technology, developed by Chinese scientists in the past three decades, could raise yields by 15 percent to 20 percent, or a ton per hectare.

"The program, supported by the Chinese government, will play a positive role in lifting grain production capacity and easing food shortage in developing countries of Asia and the Pacific (region)," said Ai Yuxin, senior expert at UNAPCAEM.

China has set a model to address food shortages for other countries in the region, with a capability to produce over 95 percent of the grain needed by its 1.3 billion population, Ai told Xinhua news agency.

According to a report released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific at the end of April, the financial crisis has become a food crisis threatening a population estimated at 583 million people in the region, about one-eighth of the total.


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