High value-added market needed for agriculture
While there are not many cases of attaining high added value in agricultural products, it is not that rare to find. The silkworm industry is an interesting example. In 1976, there were nearly half a million farmers growing silkworms.
By 2011, it decreased to 1,090 as the industry lost its appeal. But as silkworms’ nutritional value was highlighted, the number of farming families has begun began to grow. Finding a new use and creating higher added value is the sextic industrialization of agriculture.
Lately, farmers are concerned with the free trade agreements with China and New Zealand. In fact, if farmers continue to repeat conventional farming, free trade agreements could become a great challenge, just as they fear. However, the Korean agricultural industry needs to realize that the low-price agricultural market that imported goods are introduced to should not be the future market of Korean agriculture. An economic research institute projects that the per capita GDP of Korea will be in the $40,000 range five years from now. In order for the agricultural sector to achieve $40,000 income, products with high added value should be created, and farmers should focus on these products rather than competing in the low-end agricultural market. The perspective of looking at agriculture as an industry that produces foodstuffs should be reinvented. Regions and producers need to seek and develop infinite potential.
Now, Korean agriculture should open up a new high added-value market just as new uses of silkworm have been found and a new market has expanded. If the aging of the farmers is a problem when developing new markets, the authorities should prepare a foundation for sextic industrial start-ups by connecting young Korean job seekers with farmers. Korean urban consumers are coming back to rural environments.
As the environment changes, Korean agriculture’s sextic industrialization would create new added value and the agricultural industry would join the per capita income of $40,000. It would also resolve various problems that may arise as a result of free trade agreements.
By Yang Seok-jun, Business administration professor at Sangmyung University