A blue ocean for the young generation
U.S. President Barack Obama’s election promise in 2008 was to create five million new jobs in environmentally friendly green industries. He also proposed concentrated assistance on so-called green jobs such as LED lighting, solar energy and manure processing technologies. The LED technology was first developed in non-agricultural fields, but it is now widely used in agriculture, such as in plant production factories and with growing crops.
In developed countries, advanced science and technology are integrated into farming, as seen in bioenergy, bioengineering and plant factories, creating high added value and jobs. Many of the American researchers I have met had studied information technology, biotech and nano-tech. They perceived agriculture as a future industry and have changed agricultural products into “advanced science materials,” creating more jobs.
Job creation for the young people is a national task. The agricultural industry is a new blue ocean for young people. Agricultural technology development will bring new hopes not only to the agricultural industry but to the whole country. The plant factory was initially a technology used to cultivate crops in space, but today, it is widely used in urban and rural environments in various forms. Farming life science technologies are also widely used, and the smartest elites are in the fields today.
Young Koreans are not very interested in the agricultural and food industries. The total added value of agriculture in Korea is 25 trillion won ($21 billion), about 3 percent of Korea’s gross domestic product. This portion only takes up production-oriented agriculture that produces what we eat.
But lately, agriculture is more than production and has expanded to new areas such as processing, distribution, food, export, experience, tourism, medicine and new materials. Related industries aggregate to over 10 percent of gross domestic product, and nearly four million people are employed. Agriculture-related industries such as food safety, hygiene, logistics, import and export, packaging, design and marketing create countless jobs.
To stimulate interest in agricultural and food industries among young people, the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation formed an agricultural and food products future planning team last year. Three thousand young people in Korea and other countries participate in the Young Agri-Food Fellowship, or YAFF. They visit agricultural food product companies to interview CEOs and renew their visions.
In addition to the advancement of agricultural technologies combining breeding, energy and life sciences, talented people with storytelling, communication and foreign language skills need to be employed in the industry to accomplish globalization of Korean cuisine and increased exports. When they enter the world stage in hospitality, food exports and overseas technology teaching, Korean food and agricultural industries can become globally competitive. The agricultural and food industries are waiting for the creativity, passion and pioneering spirit of young people. Agriculture is calling for young Koreans.
by Kim Jae-soo, CEO of the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation