As holiday approaches, farmers are beset by worry

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As holiday approaches, farmers are beset by worry

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A farmer looks at fallen apples in his orchard in Chungcheong. [YONHAP]

“In other years, nearing the Chuseok season brought happiness of harvest and profit ... This year, I dislike the holidays.”

Farmer Yun Tae-eun, 69, of Anseong, Gyeonggi, sighs as he points to the orchard’s bare branches. Yun grows pears in a 33,000 square meter (8 acres) area, but 60 to 70 percent of his hard-earned pears fell when Typhoon Kompasu swept through.

The situation in many orchards in Ansan is similar. Grapes, which require a lot of sunlight, at this point are 70 to 80 percent ripe. Instead, the grapes’ sugar content has fallen and so has the color and quality.

Yesan County, South Chungcheong, an area famous for apples, was hit by the typhoon and has lost more than 90 percent of its produce.

In Yesan County, approximately 1,200 farms with more than 1,129 hectares (2,789 acres) produce apples. Of this, 1,000 hectares have suffered loss. The loss amounts to more than 10 billion won ($8.5 million).

Farmer Kwon O-yeong, 55, of Eungbong-myeon, Yesan County, said, “Due to strong winds, 80 percent of the early cultivated apples have fallen and trees have been uprooted. All of the compensation that was given was 460,000 won per 3000 square meters for the cost of pesticides.”

Farmers’ worries have deepened as Chuseok draws near.

The typhoon, heavy rain and a heat wave that hit before the harvesting season caused great loss for fruits that were to be shipped during Chuseok.

Adding to the worries are the falling price of rice and an unknown veterinary disease. Suh Chang-bae, a rice farmer from the plains of Gimje, North Jeolla and a farmer of 25 lots of 10 hectares said, “The prediction that the price of rice would fall greatly is causing worries as the harvesting season draws near.”

The government purchased rice last year at 45,000 to 47,000 won per 40 kilogram (88 pounds). However, rumors have it that this year, the price per 40 kilogram will fall 5,000 won.

As the harvesting season has come in earnest, the price of products will fall due to the floods. According to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, rice farming this year will yield 5.3 tons per hectare, which is similar to last year’s yield.

The total yield is forecasted to be 4,730,000 tons. The stock overflow that exceeds available storage room will cause prices to fall by around 10 percent from last year.

The livestock industry has been anxious from the “dropping cows” occurring since last month. In 47 farms in North Jeolla, 52 cows have been buried due to such symptoms such as paralysis of the back legs.


By Jang Dae-suk [hdsjang@joongang.co.kr]

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