IFAD’s Rural Development Report launched in China – advocating for transforming food systems for rural prosperity

– The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), together with the China Centre for Agricultural Policy of Peking University, launched IFAD’s Rural Development Report 2021, in a virtual event today.

The 2021 flagship report focuses on transforming food systems for rural prosperity. It describes the comprehensive issues that affect the sustainability of food systems and provides recommendations on how to make food systems environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

IFAD’s cooperation with China prioritises supporting China’s rural revitalization strategy and promoting common prosperity for farmers in rural areas. “This report focuses on how the rural population can benefit from the transformation of the food system and truly address the issue of food security,” said Han Bin, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Financial Cooperation of the Ministry of Finance, China. “This is particularly relevant at a time when the global poverty reduction process has been set back by COVID-19 and more than 800 million people are facing hunger,” he added.

“The report is an effective response to the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021, making an important contribution to the realization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) of the United Nations,” said Wang Jinxia, Boya Distinguished Professor at the College of Modern Agriculture, Peking University and Director of the China Centre for Agricultural Policy Research.

The occasion was an opportunity to share the report more widely and to discuss report topics from an international and Chinese perspective.

“The report highlights the importance of focusing investments and policy changes on rural food value chains in order to make adequate and nutritious food accessible to all,” said Jyotsna Puri, IFAD’s Associate Vice President, Strategy and Knowledge Department.

“It also highlights that we need to ensure that food systems do not harm the environment, and that food producers are able to earn a decent income,” she added.

In his keynote speech, Huang Jikun, from prominent thinktank China Center for Agricultural Policy Research, Peking University, stressed that “innovative institutions, policies and investments are key driving forces to improve food security and promote greener agriculture. Innovative public investments will drive the development of rapid, inclusive, and greener transformation of food systems”.

Distinguished speakers and video messages from IFAD officials, Chinese government officials, academic researchers and members of the private sector also contributed to the discussion.

Jianmin Xie, Counsel from the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs emphasised China’s strategic priorities in making the food system more environmentally efficient and beneficial to rural people. He stressed the importance of “ensuring food security, promoting agricultural carbon emission reduction and consolidating the successful results of Chinese poverty alleviation through rural revitalization”.

During the panel discussion, Shenggen Fan, Chair Professor, College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University; Xiande Li, Professor at the Institute of Agricultural Economics, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Joachim von Braun, Director at the Centre for Development Research at the University of Bonn and Chair of the Scientific Group of UN Food System Summit; and Yan Shi, founder of Shared Harvest Farm and pioneer in China implementing community-supported agriculture. Panellists contributed to the policy dialogue. They focused on actions that can be taken to transform food systems for rural prosperity and to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Particular emphasis was placed on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic to rural economies and the importance of strengthening the resilience of food systems in preparation for future challenges.

Matteo Marchisio, IFAD China DPRK and Korea Country Director and IFAD Representative in China, reiterated that; “If you want to fix food systems, listen to all of the people who work within food systems. Only by ensuring that rural people are heard and consulted when seeking solutions can these food systems be made inclusive and sustainable.”

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