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Farmers` Frustration in May

Posted May. 01, 2003 22:15,   


The Hwangsan-ri fields in Okgwa-myeon, Gokseong-gun, South Jeolla Province on May 1. The farmers were busy plowing the ground and arranging the rice seedbeds at the grain field around the village. Their faces didn’t seem bright though.

“Since all the men in their 40s and 50s went to work for construction fields in Gwangjiu, there are no helping hands despite farming season. Now the people in their 60s and 70s usually do most of work for farming. It is hard to find the laborers even at the high payment of 50,000 won a day,” said the village head Oh Kwang-seok (68 years old).

“We manage to do the farming in the exchange of labors by the elders and women, but it is not possible to do the works other than farming because of lack of workers.”

Wages per day in the village went up to 50,000 won for a man and 40,000 won for a woman, which was increased by 5,000 won compared to last year. And wages for difficult work such as spreading fertilizer and farmyard manure went up to 70,000 won, which marked the highest wage in agricultural district ever.

“If I continue to farm in this circumstances, it will happen soon that I neither can support my children for the higher education nor am I able to feed my family, because the profit of the proceeds from crops sales can not catch up with the increase of wages,” complained with a deep sigh farmer Chang Nam-gi, who owned and farmed 6,000 pyeong of farmland in Bojeong village.

The recent rising price of oil and farming equipments gives heavy burden to farmhouse, too. In the case of Sanpo-myeon, Najiu City, South Jeolla, in which 1,300 households grow the lettuces, watermelon and other crops under special care with specific facilities, many of them in the village are burdened by the debts of over tens of million won, as the price of iron materials, vinyl, sprouts and fertilizer goes sharply up every year.

“50 million won debt is all that remains on me despite last 20 years of bone breaking and all day long hard in the heat of the green house felt like an oven,” said the farmer Choi Dae-eok (59 years old), who has grown the plants in 10 shelters facilitated. “I have to work all by myself until late to prune sprouts of watermelons since I cannot find any laborers even though I would pay 50,000 won a day.”

Farmers in Daesan-ri, Dong-eup, Changwon City, South Gyeongsang Province, who have special facilities for watermelons, hot papers and flowers are also worried. “The price of flowers drop down to half the price of last year due to decreased consumption caused by economic recession. Even if many hands are needed for cropping flowers, I have to work only with my wife because I can`t afford to pay for wages,” said the farmer Choi Soon-ho (68 years old) who have grown the gypsophila in the 1,300 pyeong of green house.

The representative of the Agricultural Cooperation Film in Dong-eup, Changwon-si, Song Jeong-ae (49 years old) said, “The price of pipes and chemicals for agriculture increased up to 15% compared to last year due to increased price of oil. South Gyeongsang Province anticipated that 40,000 laborers would lack for this spring, in detail, 12,600 laborers for planting sprouts of rice and 12,000 laborers for cropping garlic and onions.

Farmers in South Chungcheong Province and North Gyeongsang Province are in the same situation. “I wondered around looking for laborers throughout Buyeo-gun and Seido-myeon only to find only 3 to 4 laborers,” said the farmer Kim Seok-won (50 years old) in Gaecheong-ri, Seongdong-myeon, Nonsan-si, South Chungcheong Province, who has grown grape tomatoes. “Throwing away the fruits being spoiled is the only way left to us.”

Mr. Oh Sang-dal (48 years old), who is a village headman in Pyungpal 2-ri Ilgik-myeon, Andong-si, South Gyeongsang Province and farms 6,000 pyeong of garlic, apple and rice agriculture, said, “Farmers are so much depressed because of difficulties in farming as time goes by. But fortunately, military soldiers` assistance is of somewhat help.”

“Government should consider realistic measures that relieve a burden of a farmhouse, such as organizing the means for the help of nationwide agricultural village work and expanding assistance for free of farming materials which is currently carrying out by Nonghyub,” urged Mr. Lee (56 years old), a farmer living in Hwasan-ri, Samgae-myeon, Jangseong-gun, South Jeolla Province.

"Nowadays in rural community, many people sigh saying, ‘I want to stop farming,’ or ‘I will leave a farm village.’ It is because there is no hope even if they struggle no matter what,” said the chairman Kang Gy-gab, Gyeonggi Union of National Agricultural Federation.

“It is also another problem that the government does not actively show its concern on the matters like measures to farmhouse liabilities and reformation of cooperative association. We plan to hold an assembly before the season for rice-planting to urge to the authorities so that they may prepare for measures to relieve the suffering of rural community,” added Kang.