The South Korean government will establish what it calls a “K-rice belt” across seven countries in Africa to advance current official development assistance (ODA) programmes to countries struggling with a shortage of farming infrastructure, compounded by geographical and other limitations unfavorable to growing crops.
The Korean Food Ministry confirmed the development last week.
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According to the South Korean media, countries set to benefit are; Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya.
The Food Ministry will sign memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with the seven countries to identify ways to more effectively nurture the traditional industry, enabled in part by renting out used Korean agricultural equipment.
“These are among the key policy directives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for 2023. Global cooperation with key grain-producing countries will be strengthened through efforts to diversify trade partner countries in Central and South America,” the Korean government said on Wednesday.
A minister-chaired special task force will also be launched to help Korea achieve US$10 billion in agricultural exports in 2023, promoting IT-mediated smart farming technologies and capabilities of strong local players.
The goal is to push up the figure further to US$15 billion in 2027.
Rice is the only grain that has registered a self-sufficiency rate of a robust 84.6 percent in Korea as about 80 percent of other crops are imported.
“The year 2023 will be an opportunity for us to make great contributions to the growth of not only the agriculture and food industries but also the economy as a whole,” Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Chung Hwang-keun said during a briefing of the ministry’s directives for 2023 to President Yoon Suk-yeol.