Korea Looks Abroad for Grain
Chosun Ilbo | 29 August 2008
International grain prices have climbed steadily over the past year, causing unease that the cost of staple grains, like corn and wheat, will rise causing a general surge in prices.
These higher prices are partly caused by under-production. According to predictions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the world will produce 29 million tons of grain this year, which is less than estimated consumption. And prices rise when demand exceeds supply.
This causes a problem in Korea, as most of the country's grain fields are currently dedicated to rice, leading to reliance on imported grain. The shortage has now become a food security issue for the country's 49 million people.
It is becoming harder for Koreans to buy grain, regardless of price. That is why the government is hurrying to cultivate overseas crops and to secure stable import sources.
The government has set up a surveying team comprising both governmental and civilian personnel, including members of major conglomerates, such as LG International and Hanwha, to seek out more land to cultivate. Thus far, the team has examined countries such as Mongolia, Cambodia and Laos.
Analysts here say since Korea imports three-quarters of its grain supply, securing stable sources will only become more critical in the future.
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