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Mr. Ajmal M. Qureshi, FAO Representative

in China, D.P.R. Korea and Mongolia

On the Occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the International Workshop on Seabuckthorn Development

August 30, 1999

 Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen!


I bring you greetings of the FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf and our congratulations to the International Centre for Research and Training on Seabuckthorn and the Ministry of Water Resources, China for making such excellent arrangements in organizing this International Workshop on Seabuckthorn. Please allow me to say how privileged I feel to have been invited to speak at this extremely important event.


I am aware that the Workshop will specifically focus on issues relating to sustainable development and prospects of Seabuckthorn in the 21st century and research and development progress. And it will provide a valuable forum to review the latest developments achieved after the International Symposium on Seabuckthorn in 1995, and exchange ideas and experiences in the field. I will, however, generally speak on the broad issue of sustainability and as it affects us all.


While we are approaching the end of the Century and will soon welcome the new millennium, the issues of environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and sustainable development will continue to be a cause of major concern to the international community. The 20th Century has witnessed remarkable feats of human creativity and ingenuity. Man has never in the known history enjoyed such a rapid economic and material advancement. Science and technology have transformed the world. All this progress has been achieved at an immense cost.

The Plan of Action adopted at the 1992 UNCED at Rio addresses the urgent issue of the conservation of environment with the ultimate goal of attaining sustainable development for humankind on this planet. Government, the private sectors and academia all are seeking ways and means to attain this goal of sustainable development.


As far as China is concerned, it is indeed encouraging to observe that the Chinese Government accords high priority to sustainability. China has been a pioneer in this regard being one of the first countries to prepare a National Agenda 21 Plan of Action according to its own particular economic, social and environmental considerations. As the largest developing country in the world, China is confronted with grave threats to its sustainable development. China is also severely affected by progressive land desertification. In the vast arid and semi-arid regions of North China, poor natural resources, the relative concentration of populations, have affected soil erosion, land classification, grassland degradation, and increased desert encroachment. It has been a long-term and important historical mission for China to prevent and control this desertification, and soil erosion, while improving the ecological environment, and raising the living standards of the population.


We are glad to see that the Chinese Government has put into place the strategic policies by emphasizing that the plan and growth of economic development should be in step with environmental reconstruction based on its own national conditions. Especially in controlling the losses of soil and water, the government has invested a large amount of manpower, financial and material resource, and aggressively pursued a series of relevant preferential policies.


It is apparent that China has made great advances in the development of Seabuckthorn within the last ten years. China, of all the countries in the wide range of this species, is clearly leading in using the species for social, economic development and for environmental amelioration. As you may notice that for many years, a major element in China¨s strategy to control desertification process has been the planting of Seabuckthorn in desert border areas suffering from severe soil and water losses. Seabuckthorn has proved its utility to hold and build back topsoil in such areas, and thereby to help to improve the productive capacity of fragile ecosystems. In essence, Seabuckthron plantations have demonstrated their ability to facilitate the new development of sustainable agriculture, forestry, and livestock.


FAO, with our close collaborators like UNDP, has always helped promote the activities relating Seabuckthorn. Since 1980s, FAO has established a close relationship with the Chinese Government on Seabuckthorn development. For instance, an FAO trust fund project for the research of the nitrogen-fixation ability of Seabuckthorn was implemented from 1986 C 1991. The objective of the project was to improve the adaptability, growth and yield of Seabuckthorn through rangewide provenance testing, coupled with investigations into nitrogen-fixing capabilities of provenances in varying environmental conditions.


Before I conclude, please let me renew my congratulations to the International Centre for Research and Training on Seabuckthorn and the Ministry of Water Resources, China for jointly organizing the Workshop which is both timely and significant. The Workshop will provide an opportunity for exchange of information on Seabuckthorn scientific research and management and development, as well as its trend towards the Year 2010.


And finally, please let me wish the Workshop all the success. Thank you!