SCO Secretary-General’s remarks at the opening ceremony of the 26th China Yangling Agricultural Hi-Tech Fair

SCO Secretary-General’s remarks at the opening ceremony of the 26th China Yangling Agricultural Hi-Tech Fair

On 22 October 2019 in Xianyang (Shaanxi province, PRC), SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov attended the opening ceremony of the 26th China Yangling Agricultural Hi-Tech Fair (CAF).

The exhibition was organised by the People's Government of Shaanxi Province, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The plenary session marking the fair opening focused on improving cooperation in the field of agriculture and assistance in joint development. The session also included remarks by Governor of the People's Government of Shaanxi Province Liu Guozhong, Chief Director of Animal Husbandry at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ma Youxiang, Uzbek Minister of Agriculture Zhamshid Khojaev and President of China National Agrochemical Corporation (CNAC) Yang Xingqiang.

Opening the ceremony, Liu Guozhong noted the importance of sharing modern agricultural technology and especially using the achievements of digitalisation, implementing sophisticated innovative models and advances.

It is important for the SCO members to focus their joint efforts on combating poverty, improving villages and the remote rural areas that are hard to access or stand on saline or dry soils. The SCO can become a key player in establishing inter-regional links in this field of cooperation.

Greeting the participants, the SCO Secretary-General praised the special role and significance of the Yangling international fair and hi-tech agricultural equipment demonstration zone as a national brand and a vivid example of stimulating dynamic development of farming in arid and semiarid regions. At the same time, institutional reforms and technological innovations reshaped the production structure and boosted small farmers' income, which made a substantial contribution to modernising China's agriculture.

Vladimir Norov noted the importance and favourable timing of Chinese President Xi Jinping's initiative to build an SCO demonstration base in Yangling for agricultural technology exchanges. The President first presented the initiative at the SCO summit that took place in June 2019 in Bishkek.

"As one of the SCO founding members, China, by the example of the SCO Yangling demonstration zone, offers a uniting initiative with a view to mobilising

technology, innovation, advanced knowledge and ensuring food security across the Organisation."

"Today 30 to 40 million sq km of soil in the world are under the threat of desertification, including 3 million sq km of farmland. The regions at risk are countries in Asia and Africa. Almost 2 billion people live in water-deficient areas; more than 820 million are starving while protectionism is disrupting the international food trade and the world is still facing serious challenges in terms of food security," the Secretary-General said during his remarks.

Speaking about China's progress and the country's lavish celebration of the 70th anniversary of its establishment in early October, Vladimir Norov praised the Chinese government's unprecedented efforts to reduce poverty.

The most important outcome of the Chinese government's reforms carried out since 1978 has been helping 750 million people who managed to overcome poverty. The country is responsible for 70 percent of the global efforts to reduce poverty and managed to provide food to almost 20 percent of the world population on the territory that accounts for only 9 percent of the world's farmland and 6 percent of the world's total fresh water resources. This success was possible due to observing the principle of basic food self-sufficiency and innovative use of agricultural technologies.

It should be noted that, being an organisation that unites almost half of the world population, the SCO is a major consumer and export market of agricultural products with a great potential and opportunities. The SCO's aggregated GDP in 2018 made up 22.5 percent of the global GDP.

In the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, the agricultural industry was identified as one of the priority spheres of cooperation. Therefore, member states particularly concentrate on joint hi-tech projects aimed at production and processing of agricultural products and implementing innovative agricultural technology, including the food sector.

Highlighting agriculture as one of the priorities in the SCO cooperation, Vladimir Norov stressed the importance of the Organisation's international industry-related documents that had been adopted or are being developed. The 2010 SCO agreement on cooperation in agriculture and the SCO Cooperation Programme on Food Security adopted in 2018 have served as important roadmaps and are considered serious steps in the SCO collaboration.

Worthy of note is also the SCO's desire to establish close cooperation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding, which is expected to be signed," noted Vladimir Norov during his remarks.

The outlined FAO objectives to transform food systems and to mobilise all the technologies and innovations available for achieving a favourable impact in a variety of agricultural sectors are consonant with the modern standards of cooperation between our countries in this field.

The FAO's agenda up until the year 2030 also includes the need for adopting inclusive, efficient and agrifood systems integrating production, supply and value chains with a view to arrange supplies of adequate, affordable and healthy food.

A wide range of cutting-edge models of production is accompanied by the intensive use of agricultural resources, including water, fertiliser and pesticides. As a result, a number of areas are suffering from water pollution, soil erosion and shrinkage of biodiversity of agricultural crops and animals.

Such trends are incompatible with sustainable agriculture and constitute a threat to world food security. Certain estimations reckon that mankind has already lost two billion hectares of productive land. Erosion, which is very common everywhere, alone deprives farming businesses of six to seven million hectares every year.

Winding up Mr Norov pointed out: "At the Bishkek summit in June this year the leaders of our countries emphasised the importance of holding within the SCO, forums and exhibitions intended to boost exports and imports of products made in the SCO states as well as to assist with cooperation between business communities, especially in small and medium-sized businesses."

In this context the Secretary-General regards the SCO "family" participation in the Yangling fair and in the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of SCO training and demo base for agricultural technologies exchange as important steps in the establishment of beneficial cooperation between the SCO countries and Shaanxi Province in modern agriculture.

All told, the fair opening ceremony was attended by about 900 guests.

Later on during the day, the SCO Secretariat and the fair organisers will hold a roundtable discussion on the development of agriculture within the SCO. Heads of SCO member states' delegations, observers and dialogue partners will take part in the event.

The 26th China Yangling Agricultural Hi-Tech Fair (CAF) will close on 26 October. Over 1.5 million people from 60 countries are expected to visit it.

The 25th Yangling Fair of 2018 with the theme "New Era, New Drive, and New Agriculture" featured over 9,000 products of innovative technologies and investments in the projects amounted to 110.59 billion yuan.