South Korea's rice output to edge up 0.4 pct this year

South Korea's rice output to edge up 0.4 pct this year

South Korea’s rice production is expected to rise slightly in 2015 from last year due to greater yield per cultivated land, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.

The country’s rice output is forecast to reach 4.258 million tons, up 0.4 percent from 4.241 million tons harvested in 2014, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“Overall output is expected to increase marginally as the average yield from each unit area of 10 hectares is predicted to rise,” the ministry said, citing related data from Statistics Korea.

For this year, each 10 hectares of cultivated paddy should yield 533 kilograms of rice, up 2.5 percent from 520 kilograms tallied for last year, it said.

The forecast yield is significantly higher than the 496 kilograms per 10 hectares which has been the average for the past few years.

The increase comes despite a drop in the number of paddies growing rice this year. Last year, farmers raised rice on 815,506 hectares of land, while for this year the areas used fell 2 percent to 799,344 hectares.

“Favorable weather conditions from June onward and almost no crop damage caused by parasites and typhoons are raising expectations of better yields this year,” the ministry said.

While less arable land caused output to fall steadily until 2012, there were small and steady gains in output in 2013 and last year.

The ministry said the government plans to come up with measures to stabilize market prices of the staple grain. These will include getting private rice processing plants to buy up more grain, strengthen monitoring of imported rice and regulate the country’s rice stockpile.

At present, the state’s rice reserve stands at 1.32 million tons with policymakers predicting demand for the staple grain to reach around 3.97 million tons for the whole of 2016. This can lead to more rice being held in silos and not being consumed, which translates into more costs for the government.

The country maintains a sizable rice reserve to deal with emergencies and sudden fluctuations in global grain prices.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy is self-sufficient when it comes to growing enough rice to feed its 50 million citizens, although it imports almost all other farm produce from abroad to meet demand.


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