Professor instructs farmers on cultivating ‘super’ cornWiping sweat from their foreheads, “corn expert” Kim Sun-gwon, 61, a professor of Kyungpook National University, and farmers walked into fields in North Gyeongsang province earlier this month and examined the crop of “super” corn they had been harvesting.
The farm in Sobo-myeon, Gunwi county, belongs to Kim Yun-jo, 60, who was one of 30 farmers Professor Kim had encouraged to plant corn instead of rice on their land.
“I trusted Professor Kim and now there is a bumper crop,” said the farmer, showing an ear of corn dotted with purple kernels.
The farmers made an average profit of 2.4 million won ($2,526) per 2,000 square meters, or half acre, of farmland, compared to 1.5 million won worth of rice that could be grown on the same land area.
From 5,000 corn varieties, Professor Kim selected those most suitable for the county and developed them accordingly. Last year he planted the seeds in a trial and early this year distributed seed to the farmers in Sobo-myeon.
The ears of super corn average 20 centimeters, or 7.8 inches, in length, twice the size of common varieties.
“They are bigger and more resistant to disease. We used as little pesticide as possible. They also taste great,” Professor Kim said.
Professor Kim said he had worked to solve food shortage problems in North Korea and Africa using the super corn. Four years ago, he turned his attention to South Korea also.
“Corn imports are growing every year, and many farmers have been leaving their rice paddies idle, saying it is not profitable to cultivate rice. It is desirable to increase corn cultivation in idle rice fields,” the professor said.
He added that there is sufficient domestic demand for the corn as Koreans consume 10 million tons of the cereal annually.
The farmers planted corn on 13 hectares of lands in Gunwi county. One hectare of the land was unused farm paddies.
Orders have been pouring in for the corn. Buyers can order from www.cyso.co.kr. The farmers sold 20,000 boxes of corn (with 20 ears in each box) in one month, or 200 million won worth of corn.
“Corn farming can be an alternative to rice farming,” Professor Kim said.
by Song Yee-ho
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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