South Korea may face an oversupply of rice this year as its output reached a five-year high while rice consumption continues to shrink, government officials said Monday.
According to the officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the country's self-sufficiency rate for rice is expected to reach 97 percent in 2015.
The country's overall output of rice inched up 0.3 percent on-year to some 4.24 million tons in 2014.
South Korea is also required to import at least 408,700 tons of rice every year under a special agreement with the World Trade Organization, which had allowed the country to postpone opening its rice market over the past 20 years.
South Korea liberalized its rice market through tarrification at the start of this year.
The oversupply problem will likely be further accelerated by a drop in the country's rice consumption, the ministry officials noted.
In 2014, the country's annual intake of rice per person dipped 3.1 percent on-year to a record low of 65.1 kilograms.
The per capita consumption is again expected to shrink this year, continuing its steady decline over the past 40 odd years since 1970 when it hit a record high of 136.4 kg, officials said. (Yonhap)