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Rice self-sufficiency rate to fall below 90 percent this year

 South Korea's self-sufficiency rate of rice, one of its staple grains, is expected to drop below 90 percent this year due to a decline in land available for rice cultivation, the government said Sunday.

   The country's rice self-sufficiency rate is likely to reach 86.5 percent this year, based on the median output of 4.88 million tons over the past five years, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

   Last year, the figure came to 83 percent, down sharply from 104.6 percent the previous year. Last year's rice production hit a 31-year low of 4.22 million tons.

   South Korea's rice self-sufficiency rate is feared to drop to a lower level for 2012, given this year's rice output is projected to hover below that of last year due to damage from three typhoons that hit the country in late August and early September.

   The falling rice self-sufficiency rate is attributed mainly to a steady fall in the amount of land under rice cultivation. Last year, the area under rice cultivation decreased by 38,000 hectares, following a decline of 32,000 hectares the previous year.

   Experts urged the government to come up with diverse measures to boost the rice self-sufficiency rate amid a surge in international grain prices. (Yonhap)

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