Gov’t plans to reopen agriculture dialogue

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Gov’t plans to reopen agriculture dialogue

The South Korean government will resume an agricultural collaboration project with the North that has been stalled since 2007 because of increasing tension on the peninsula during the former Lee Myung-bak administration.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said yesterday in its report to President Park Geun-hye that, starting with supplying materials for greenhouse and cattle farming, the government ultimately wants to establish a farm with the North.

Until 2007, the South Korean government provided the North with about 300,000 tons of free fertilizer.

The committee will be renewed and headed by the current agriculture minister, Lee Dong-phil. It will be a working level of the Rural Development Administration, Korea Forest Service, Korea Rural Economic Institute and Korea Rural Community Corporation.

The committee will also help restore forests and launch disease and insect control programs in the northern part of the peninsula.

With the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other international participants, the South Korean government will discuss measures for cooperation between the two Koreas.

“No discussion has been made between the South and North yet,” said a ministry official. “The ministry is just preparing for better relations between the two Koreas. A necessary premise for such a project to resume the joint project should be favorable relations.”

Restarting collaboration with the North is part of the ministry’s three major goals this year: To increase competitiveness in an open agricultural environment, help increase incomes of local farmers and secure food security in the future.

The ministry plans to encourage large businesses to work with small farms to help raise incomes of farmers.

It introduced a successful collaboration project between SPC Group, which runs the Paris Baguette chain, with an orchard in Yeongcheon in North Gyeongsang, in which the retail giant purchased apples that are too small to sell in stores and used them as ingredients for bakery products, creating a win-win situation for the two.

To protect local farmers against the negative impact of free trade agreements, the ministry will also pursue measures to communicate with farmers more effectively.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]


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