China’s Qu Dongyu, 56, was elected as the ninth Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) here on Sunday.

The official, currently serving as vice minister of China’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs, will officially begin in the new post starting from Aug. 1 and until July 31, 2023.

Qu was chosen during the ongoing 41st FAO Conference, the highest governing body of the Rome-based agency. He won with a large majority of 108 votes against French Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, who received 71 votes, and Georgian Davit Kirvalidze, who got 12 votes.

Born in China’s southern province of Hunan in 1963, Qu can boast an extensive background in the agricultural field.

He graduated with a Bachelor Degree from the Hunan Agricultural College in 1983, and obtained a Master Degree in plant breeding and genetics from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).

He achieved his PhD in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands in 1996.

Before being appointed vice minister at China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in June 2015, he served as Director-General of the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers of the CAAS between 2000 and 2002, and as Vice President of the CAAS between 2001 and 2008.

With the national Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Qu’s activities especially focused on innovation research, and on raising rural income, reducing poverty through science and technology, and building a quality assessment system for agro-produce, according to his official presentation as candidate.

During his mandate at the CAAS, his research team published over 70 papers on scientific journals, including Nature and Science, and over 20 books.

From 2008 to June 2015, he served as Assistant Governor and then Vice Governor at the People’s Government of China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

In such roles, he helped introducing policies on developing local speciality industries, applying new approaches to agriculture publications and rural tourism, and improving start-up micro lending to young and female farmers.

Once appointed Vice Minister of Agriculture, among various tasks, Qu worked on promoting a market-oriented development of agriculture supported by IT, launching a mechanism of exchange on urban agriculture among big and medium-sized cities in China, and encouraging agriculture brand building and speciality industries.

Still according to his official candidate profile, the scientist contributed to the formulation of crucial domestic policy papers, including China’s Thirteen Five-Year Plan for International Agricultural Cooperation and the Vision and Actions for Joint Promotion of Agriculture Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

He was also extensively involved in international cooperation in the field, including the activities of the ASEAN plus China, Japan, and Republic of Korea cooperation mechanism, and the design of several South-South Cooperation flagship projects with FAO, the World Bank, and other international agencies.

Qu will be the first Chinese official to serve as Director General of FAO, since the organisation’s inception.

He will succeed Brazilian Jose Graziano Da Silva, who has served as the agency’s top head for two consecutive terms since January 2012 (after being elected in June 2011 and confirmed in 2015).

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation was founded in Quebec City, Canada, in 1945. It comprises of 194 member states, plus one member organisation (the European Union) and two associate members (the Faroe Islands and Tokelau).