Agriculture minister vows to get more youth into farming

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Agriculture minister vows to get more youth into farming

Korea’s new agriculture minister said on Monday that he would seek ways to combine advanced technologies with traditional farming to create a value-added industry and attract young farmers to rural areas.

Lee Gae-ho, the minister of agriculture, said the government would expand financial and technical support to facilitate young people’s entry into the farming business.

“I will support the agriculture and food industry to create quality jobs for young people,” Lee said at his inauguration ceremony. “I will seek measures to increase the number of farmers under 40 from the current 1 percent to 2 percent within 10 years.”

The ministry estimates farmers will grow old before they grow more. Currently, only 11,000 farmers, 1.1 percent, are under the age of 40, and that is expected to shrink to 0.4 percent in 2025 if the current trend continues, according to the ministry.

To meet the goal, Lee vowed to create a “smart farm innovation valley” to create synergy between farmers, companies and research institutes and develop value-added agricultural products and a bio industry.

Korea has grown from a predominantly agricultural nation to an industrialized one in a relatively short period of time, with a heavy focus on manufacturing and trade.

The agriculture sector accounted for just 2.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2016, according to the World Bank.

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