[EDITORIALS]A lesson in agricultureImported rice is not being welcomed in Korea. The U.S. Calrose rice was not popular at the nation’s auction of foreign rice for retail sale. Consumers who purchased the rice out of curiosity say the rice does not taste right to them.
The U.S. rice is being returned, because it does not sell at local markets. People had a fear that Calrose rice, a cheap but quality brand, would dominate the domestic market. That worry turned out to be groundless.
The Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation is planning to lower the price for the next bids.
As we see Calrose rice fail to prosper in the domestic market, Korea’s agricultural sector needs to make a decision ― whether Korea will blindly close its doors or whether we will survive through quality competition.
If we take a look at the cases of Japan and Taiwan, we can see clearly which direction to take.
After opening markets, Taiwan’s domestic market was dominated by imported rice, while Japan’s rice won the competition against foreign rice.
The Taiwan government stuck to its policy of buying domestic rice. As the government bought all the rice produced in the country, its farmers did not try to produce rice of better quality.
Three years after Taiwan opened its doors to imports, its rice has lost ground because of its comparatively high price and low quality. Now Taiwan’s rice stays afloat only thanks to high tariffs on imported rice.
Meanwhile, Japan has long focused on developing better quality rice to satisfy Japanese consumers. A campaign promoting home-grown agricultural products has worked as well. The Japanese people took advantage of a weak point of imported rice ― the long time between production and consumption. In Japan, few people buy imported rice although it is only half the price of domestic rice.
The number of Korean rice brands has reached 1,900 or so. The quality also has improved tremendously. We have long passed the time when the only rice we had was not tasty and Calrose rice was regarded as a luxury.
Rice that meets Koreans’ high quality standards will win in the end. The only solution for domestic rice to survive is to improve quality, as Japan did, and to drive imported rice to a low-price market niche.
Because Calrose rice does not sell well in the market, we see a bright future for our agriculture.