S. Korea starts shipping surplus rice this week in aid to Cambodia and Myanmar

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2017-05-18 14:04 Updated : 2017-05-18 17:57
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[Aju News DB]

South Korea will start shipping surplus rice to Cambodia and Myanmar following its participation in a food aid program for poor countries in an effort to cope with dwindling rice consumption, oversupply and rising stockpiles.

A container ship carrying 250 tons of rice will depart for Cambodia Thursday, and 500 tons will go to Myanmar on Friday, the agriculture ministry said. South Korea has promised to offer rice through the ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), a regional food aid program launched in 2013 by 10 Asian countries including South Korea, Japan and China.

That will be South Korea's first rice donation to a third country through an international framework, though North Korea was once provided with South Korean rice as part of a broad economic aid program.

To prop up falling rice prices, South Korea will join the Food Assistance Convention to provide rice in economic assistance to poor countries. So far 14 countries including the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia and the European Union have joined the treaty launched in 2013.

South Korea plans to donate some 40 million dollars worth of rice, or 50,000 tons, to the treaty.

State warehouses are packed with rice reserves, far higher than 800,000 tons recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization. South Korea should also import about 400,000 tons under the obligatory rice quota set by the World Trade Organization.

Rice is still the main source of daily calories, but annual rice consumption has been on the decline, leading to a surge in the rice inventory. South Koreans now consume more coffee than their staple food. Alternative and processed food are getting more popular while the perception that too much carbohydrate is unhealthy also played a role in the dietary trend.

Lim Chang-won = cwlim34@ajunews.com