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Rice Production Hits 23-Year Low

Posted November. 14, 2003 22:49,   


Reflecting the typhoon and the lower amount of sunlight, this year’s rice production decreased to the lowest level in 23 years since 1980.

The National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS), a subsidiary organization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, announced today that the production dropped by 9.7 percent (3.31 million seom) to 30.91 million seom, compared to 34.22 million seom last year. One seom is equivalent to 5.12 bushels. NAQS conducts a survey every year of the production volume with 9,000 sample units nationwide.

The amount is the lowest since the production hit the record low level of 24.65 million seom in 1980 due to unusual cold weather.

Production per sample unit (10a.) also slipped to 441 kg, which is lower than the expectation (445kg). In particular, it decreased by 10.2 percent compared to the recent five-year average.

NAQS analyzed that the reduction reflects the fact that there is 3.5 percent less farmland area (37,000ha) than last year and less sunshine because of the frequent rainfalls and the typhoon.

“Along with the decrease in the production, the quality is low in general as the grains tend to not be fully ripe,” said Director of NAQS Lee Soo-hwa.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said the poor crop would do no harm to rice supply since the government has 8.42 million seom of rice stock and Korea is required to import at least 1.43 million seom of rice to meet the minimum market access (MMA) commitment level according to the agreement of the Uruguay Round. The domestic demand is expected to be 33.74 million seom while the supply is 40.76 million seom.

The rice surplus would be a mere 180,000 to 230,000 tons. Considering the optimum stock (57.3 million to 60.7 million seom) recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it will be difficult to maintain this year’s level of 400,000-ton rice aid to North Korea next year.

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com