CIP Trustee elected head of UN agriculture agency

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced on 23 June 2019 that Qu Dongyu has been elected its new Director-General. Currently the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and International Potato Center (CIP) Trustee, Qu will begin his four-year term at the Rome-based agency on 1 August.

Board Trustee of the International Potato Center, Qu Dongyu, received a total of 108 votes out of 191 cast, constituting a majority in the first round; photo courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

He was one of five candidates to run for the position and won with 108 of the 191 votes cast by the 194 member states of the UN body.

Later this week CIP Director General Barbara H Wells will have the opportunity to publicly congratulate Qu at the opening of this year’s China Potato Expo in Beijing.

Central to Qu’s 33 years in agricultural and rural development, international exchange and cooperation has been his extensive knowledge of potato and its potential contribution to food system transformation. Over the last five years, three of which he served as a CIP Trustee, he has led numerous joint China-CIP cooperation projects. His support has been instrumental in establishing the CIP-China Center for Asia Pacific, a state-of-the-art research center in Yanqing that was generously built and equipped by the government of China.

Potato production—as well as that of grain, grape and goji berry—was at the center of the value chain development programs and plans led by Qu to lift local farmers out of poverty. CIP has worked closely with Chinese scientists, leading to the development of more than 100 potato varieties in China, at least 35 of which are currently being cultivated. Its production has increased so much that it is now the nation’s fourth largest staple crop

An expert in potato breeding and biotechnology, Qu was one of the drivers behind establishment of the International Potato Genome Sequence Consortium. The research findings of the group were published by Nature as a cover story in 2011. Among his accolades is the World Potato Congress Industry Award in 2006, the same year he was named of the Top 100 Young Scientists in China.

His CV attests to his belief in rigorous, science-based decision-making. His leadership roles also include serving in the early 2000s as a member of the CGIAR Executive Council—body responsible for the governance of the global research partnership. The 15 CGIAR centers work for a food secure future by reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security and improving natural resources.

As the new FAO Director-General, Qu has vowed to focus on hunger and poverty eradication, tropical agriculture, drought land farming, digital rural development and improved land design through transformation of agricultural production.

As the world grapples with the challenges posed by climate change and rapidly rising populations combined with a need for greater international collaboration and knowledge sharing, CIP is reassured that with Qu Dongyu, a person who understands the potential of the potato in addressing global development challenges,  at the helm of FAO, the UN agency will continue its leadership role in promoting global food security and sustainable development, for present and future generations.

Read more on the CIP website and the FAO website

China Potato Expo