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Korea to strike balance of rice supply, demand by 2019

The South Korean government said Thursday that it will strike a balance between rice supply and demand by 2019 through efforts to reduce rice cultivation and boost consumption.

The country has been suffering from a chronic oversupply of the staple grain for years due to a sharp drop in rice consumption.


Some 300,000 tons of rice remained in excess last year, as the 4.2 million ton supply outnumbers the 3.9 million tons consumed, and the glut will likely stay at 200,000 tons in 2017.

Meanwhile, a change in people's diet and tastes has dragged down rice consumption by a large extent for years, with per capita rice consumption nearly halving to 62.9 kilograms per year in 2015 from the 128.1 kg tallied in 1985.

"We will reduce the supply glut of rice year by year and reach a balance by 2019," said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

As a first step, the government will reduce the country's rice paddies to 711,000 hectares in 2019 from 779,000 hectares in 2016, while the public rice stockpile will be raised to 1.44 million tons in 2017 from 1.13 million tons in 2016.

In the first half of this year, it will donate some 1,000 tons of rice to the international community through the emergency rice reserve framework launched by Southeast Asian countries and three East Asian countries including South Korea.

Also, it will improve the nationwide network of rice distribution in a bid to lower the consumer prices of the staple grain and introduce a rating system to satisfy diversified consumers' tastes.

In a way to meet growing demand for ready-to-eat dishes, the government will support food businesses to develop rice-based desserts and light meals. (Yonhap)