Anchor: The government has announced a set of measures to stabilize rice prices, which marked a steep fall due to this year's bumper harvest. Among the measures agreed upon by the government, the presidential office and the ruling Saenuri Party in a meeting on Wednesday are reducing some of the farmland designated as greenbelts. The price of rice in the country has fallen recently as a result of various factors such as a decline in consumption and rice reserves are at their highest level ever.
Mina Cha has more.
Report: The government has decided to partially lift a development ban on some of the country’s farming lands as a way to prevent a further slide in rice prices.
According to the Saenuri Party’s chief policy-maker Kim Gwang-lim, the government, the presidential office and the ruling party held a joint meeting on Wednesday to discuss countermeasures to falling rice prices in the market.
[Sound bite: Saenuri Party chief policy-maker Kim Gwang-lim (Korean)]
[It is assessed that at this point,] owning an agricultural plot of land is not helpful or advantageous for farmers either.
By the end of June next year, ten percent of the farmland designated as strictly for agricultural use, or 100-thousand hectares, will be deactivated, which is tantamount to one-point-seven times the size of Seoul.
Since last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs removed 85-thousand hectares of land from the designated agricultural promotion area as of the end of June. The government plans to do the same for 15-thousand hectares of additional land by the first half of next year.
Measures agreed upon during the meeting included increasing the amount of rice to be purchased by the government as well as boosting rice consumption.
The government's announcement of countermeasures comes as data shows that South Korea’s annual rice production is four-point-three million tons but its annual consumption is a meager three-point-nine million tons.
The average consumption of rice by a South Korean stands at about 65 kilograms a year, less than half of the amount consumed in 1970.
Rice reserves reached two million tons as of the end of last month, the largest ever due to the good harvest this year. The rice price was recently set at 40-thousand won per 40 kilograms, 30 percent cheaper than last year.
Mina Cha, KBS World Radio News.