ITALY – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has elected Qu Dongyu of China as director-general of the international organisation.

Qu becomes the first Chinese national to run the 74-year-old agency which aims to eliminate global hunger by tackling devastating impacts of climate change.

He will take on his role effective from 1 August 2019 until 31 July 2023, becoming the ninth director-general since the agency was founded in 1945.

He succeeds Jose Graziano da Silva, the architect of Brazil’s landmark Zero Hunger programme.

Qu Dongyu who was China’s deputy agriculture minister received a total of 108 votes out of 191 cast, beating French candidate Catherine Geslain-Lanèelle – 71 votes, and the American Davit Kirvalize- 12 votes.

In his role as deputy minister, Qu is hailed to have focused on innovation research, raising rural income, reducing poverty through science and technology, and building a quality assessment system for agro-produce.

According to the official presentation, Qu said he will focus on hunger and poverty eradication, tropical agriculture, drought land farming, digital rural development and better land design through transformation of agricultural production.

Before joining China’s agriculture ministry, Qu worked at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences where he focused on conducting research and innovation in the agricultural sector.

From 2008 to 2015, he worked in the government of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where he applied new approaches to agricultural publications and rural tourism and provided startup micro-lending to young and female farmers.

He has also been in charge of China’s agri-business cooperation with Asian, African and Latin American countries and China’s main trading partners of produce.

The 55-year old becomes the first person from a communist country to hold the influential FAO post.

His eight predecessors at FAO have come from the UK, US (two), India, Netherlands, Lebanon, Senegal and Brazil.

These include: Sir John Boyd Orr, Norris E. Dodd, Philip Vincent Cardon, Binay Ranjan Sen, Addeke Hendrik Boerma, Edouard Saouma, Jacques Diouf and José Graziano da Silva.