South Korea to expand overseas farming on rising food costs

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Bloomberg | Jul 10, 2011

South Korea to expand overseas farming on rising food costs

By Sungwoo Park

South Korea, the world’s third- biggest corn buyer, plans to secure more farmland overseas to grow crops such as corn and wheat and secure a stable supply amid surging food prices.

The North Asian nation wants to secure a total of 380,000 hectares of overseas farmland by 2018, the agriculture ministry said in an e-mailed statement today, without giving a comparative figure. That area can produce about 1.38 million tons of corn, wheat and soybeans, or about 10 percent of the nation’s annual imports of the three major crops, it said.

South Korea, which relies on imports for almost all its corn and wheat while fully self-sufficient in rice, is seeking to boost supplies as surging global food costs fuel inflation. Corn futures prices have jumped 63 percent in Chicago in the past year, while soybeans climbed 42 percent and wheat gained 22 percent.

The government will help the nation’s companies lease arable land or buy stakes in overseas firms, the statement said. It will prioritize countries such as the Philippines, Cambodia, Ukraine, Indonesia and Russia for potential investments, it said.

South Korea also plans to expand its overseas grain trading business into countries including Brazil, Russia and Ukraine after a U.S. venture was set up earlier this year, the statement said. State-run Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp. in April started a grain-trading venture in Chicago to help secure supplies, the statement said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sungwoo Park in Seoul at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at [email protected]

Original source: Bloomberg
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