Science - June 25, 2019

New head of FAO did PhD in Wageningen

Albert Sikkema

Last Saturday, Qu Dongyu was appointed as the new Director-General of the FAO. President of the board Louise Fresco thinks this appointment could be good news for WUR.

Qu, in orange tie, last visited Wageningen in January. © Sven Menschel

The Chinese Qu Dongyu, who is currently the vice minister of agriculture in China, received 108 out of 191 votes during the first electoral round for the position of the new head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He will follow up the Brazilian José Graziana da Silva in August.

The FAO is going through a transition, explains Fresco, who worked at the FAO in Rome for nearly ten years. It used to be a centralist organisation with many agricultural experts in various countries, but at that time, the FAO was the only global food authority and still had a significant budget. There are now more global food organisations, and the FAO is required to collaborate with local experts and global knowledge institutions such as WUR, Fresco states. She suspects that Qu Dongyu will be open to this.

PhD candidate
Fresco has known Qu Dongyu for a long time, even before he obtained his PhD in Wageningen in 1996 on potato cultivation under professor Evert Jacobsen’s supervision. ‘He is very proud of Wageningen. He visited Wageningen last year to discuss his candidacy with me.’

Qu is the first Chinese in a high international position, and Fresco thinks it is no coincidence that it is in an agricultural position. ‘The Chinese governors think 30 years ahead. Agriculture is very important for China. The country is not self-sufficient, so China wants to maintain good relations in the global food sector and to maintain visibility in this aspect.’ Qu’s appointment indicates that he has good connections and that China has a strong diplomatic network in the agricultural world. For many years, Qu was a researcher at and director of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), an organisation with many international contacts.

Fresco knows that Qu would like to collaborate with Wageningen. She hopes for a structural collaboration between the FAO and WUR on several global challenges. These could include emerging animal diseases, food safety, sustainable forest management and sustainable management of marine resources. ‘I would like to leave small projects behind and move towards a structural collaboration, in which, together with the FAO, we share our knowledge with vulnerable countries.’

Re:actions 4

  • Achyut Man Singh, M.Sc, (1983-85) batch from WUR

    It is really a good news that some one from our neighbor has got the key position on FAO, as being one of Alumni off WUR, we congratulate him and wishes his successful tenure in the future.
    problem facing the world is the climate change, due to deforestation and too much intervention in the ecosystem, depletion of fresh water, excessive use by the so called development. If at all we can restrict the further degradation of forests, may be we could sustain in future. Forest conserve water resources, produce oxygen, and instigate rainfall occurrence, so it is may be more important for sustainability in the growing population of human being.

  • Xiaoyong Zhang

    China has lifted 800 million Chinese out of poverty since 1978. Many chooses to ignore this fact. It might be the time for FAO to learn the experiences in order to hit the goal of ending world hunger by 2030.

  • Kees

    Louise Fresco is happy about that. Is she talking in the name of WUR or Syngenta?

  • dirk zoebl

    Oh my God, Jesus Christ, what does this mean for Africa??

    What I fear: large plantations of corn, soy and cassava, for the pigs and broilers in China.

    And very few jobs for the locals, who, btw, are already massively quitting their small scale,subsistence peasantry, and escape to the cities and, maybe, Europe.

    Too pessimistic? I really hope so!!


resource_wageningenur_nl_forum_reactions_wrapper for object 43 of type wm_language nl_gx_webmanager_cms_core_implementation_languageimpl 4

  • dirk zoebl

    @ Achyut: my third reaction here, because so much involved. You know maybe that forests and forest protection/maintenance is the big ennemy of agriculture, yesterday again on our TV a Brazilian estimate that in 20 years, no more Amazon forests. Under Bolsonaro the rate of deforestation (for agriculture, our and Chinese animal feeds, and cattle for export)is even higher than it ever was. And let's not look at Borneo!

    Now, what does it mean, a Chinese as the new Fao boss?
    Forest maintenance and protection is foremost a US and Western European thing, what does it mean for the ordinary Chinese? For the politicians there? What is the influence of China Republic on the new UN directions in Rome?
    Even where the new boss would like to practice what he learned and picked up in Wageningen. Really, I only see dark clouds at the horizon, and not much light at the end of the tunnels.

  • dirk zoebl

    I just read that the Swiss giant Syngenta has been sold to and is now firmly in the hands of Chemchina, for the sum of 40 billion euro. Small money for such a key industry for new giant China. But, but, but.....what the hell is happening on the world food scene all of a sudden?? All together considered!

  • Bertus Buizer, voorzitter Sustainable Food Supply Foundation

    Ik ben bang dat ik de huidige directeur-generaal van de FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, erg zal missen. De nieuwe FAO-chef per augustus 2019, de Chinees Qu Dongyo, is, zo lees ik, in 1996 gepromoveerd op Wageningen University & Research bij hoogleraar Evert Jacobsen, fervent voorstander weet ik nog van de nieuwe gentechniek cisgenese (genetische modificatie met eigenschappen van planten van dezelfde soort).
    Die kant kunnen we volgens mij beter niet uit in de plantenveredeling, net zo min als die van CRISPRCas een nieuwere gentechniek. Beide zullen ongetwijfeld met patenten gepaard gaan en - indien toegepast in het Azië, Afrika en Zuid- en Midden Amerika -ongetwijfeld ten koste gaan van lokale rassen.

  • dirk zoebl

    Oeioeioei, wat betekent dat voor Afrika?

    Wat ik vrees: grote plantages van mais en soja en cassave voor de kippen en varkens van China.

    En minimale werkgelegenheid voor de Afrikanen zelf, die sowieso hun kleinschalige, arbeidsintensieve zelfvoorziening aan de wilgen (bij wijze van spreken dan) gaan hangen en naar de steden (en Europa?) zullen uitwijken.

    Te pessimistisch? Ik hoop het!