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Agricultural Population Decreases 35 Percent over 10 Years

Agricultural Population Decreases 35 Percent over 10 Years

Posted February. 27, 2004 22:37,   


In the recent decade, the hollowing-out of farming and fishery communities accelerated with the decrease of one-third of the agricultural population and nearly half of the fishery population.

Also, the ratio of elderly, 65 years and older, in the farming community has nearly doubled within the same period.

The Korea National Statistical Office revealed in the “Summary Results of 2003 Basic Agricultural and Fishery Statistics Survey” that as of the end of 2003, the total number of farm household population amounted to 3.53 million, showing a 1.7 percent decrease over the previous year. The population of fishing households was 212,000 with a 1.4 percent decrease from the 215,000 figure of the previous year.

Worsening Hollow-out and Aging —

Over the past decade, there was 34.7 percent decrease in the farming population from 5.4 million, and 47.7 percent decrease in fishing population from 405,000 as of the 1993 survey.

Accordingly, the percentage of farming household population over the total population decreased to a level of 7.4 percent last year from 12.2 percent of the total population during the last 10 years. The percentage of fishing household population in the same period also dropped to 0.44 percent from 0.92 percent of the total population.

The aging of the farming population became conspicuous.

The proportion of elderly, 65 years and older, in the farming community increased twofold from 15.0 percent in 1993 to 27.8 percent in 2003.

The “aged-child” ratio, a ratio of the under 14-years-old population to the over 65-years-old population, of the farming community rapidly increased from 87.1 in 1993 to 260.3 in 2003. It means that the population of elderly was 2.6 times larger than that of the children, whereas the number of children outnumbered that of the elderly back in 1993.

Korean Agriculture Still Bound by Small Scale Farming—

Only 7.9 percent (100,000 households) of the total agricultural population made large profits with over 30 million won from sales of farming products while 68.9 percent (871,000 households) made less than 10 million won.

The proportion of households with 5ha of arable land or more has increased from 1.7 percent (24,000 households) in 2000 to 2.1 percent (26,000 households) in 2003, slightly expanding the farming scale. However, it is reported that the scale of farming is still far from huge expansion as 93.5 percent of the community farms have less than 3ha of farmland.

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com