Some 720,000 tons of newly harvested rice to be kept at state warehouses

Lim Chang-won Reporter

Posted : 2017-09-28 16:21 | Updated : 2017-09-28 18:07

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In an effort to cope with oversupply, South Korea's government will purchase 720,000 tons of newly harvest rice this year for storage at state warehouses which are already packed with reserves.

The amount, set by the agriculture ministry, is higher than an annual average but fell far short of demands by farmers who wanted the government to purchase one million tons. South Korea produced about 4.2 million tons of rice last year.

This year's purchase breaks down to the obligatory purchase of 350,000 tones for an emergency and 370,000 tons for temporary storage to stabilize prices, the ministry said, promising to take quick steps if rice prices fall sharply.

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. As of August this year, the government keeps some 2.06 million tons at state warehouses.

In May, South Korea started shipping surplus rice to Cambodia and Myanmar
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 was 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.

The agriculture ministry said South Korea would join the Food Assistance Convention this year 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.