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March 26, 2009

China sets up $30 million Africa food fund to be administered by FAO

China has set up a 30 million dollar trust fund to back agricultural projects, mainly in Africa, carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN food agency has said.

The money is aimed at helping developing countries to improve farming output with a view to achieving Millennium Development Goals, the Rome-based FAO said in a statement, adding that Beijing had joined the FAO's "donor community" with the agreement.

"This historic agreement underlines the importance of the role which China has come to play in the global arena today," said Jose Maria Sumpsi, FAO's assistant director-general.Sumpsi signed the agreement with Chinese Deputy Agriculture Minister Niu Dun.

The fund will last three years, with Beijing releasing 10 million dollars (7.4 million euros) a year.

China has provided technical assistance to Africa through the FAO for many years, formalising an alliance for south-south cooperation with the agency in 2005.

China, which has been providing bilateral aid to African nations for decades, has greatly stepped up investment in the world's poorest continent in recent years, although it has come under criticism in the West for supporting nations such as Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Many observers view Beijing's overtures to Africa as motivated mainly by China's desperate need for oil and other resources to fuel its booming economy.


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