SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island -- Researchers and government officials from South Korea and Africa gathered on Wednesday in a bid to discuss cooperative measures aiming to boost sustainable development of agriculture in the second-largest continent based on innovative technology.
“Although Africa is one of the regions that show great growth potential for agriculture industry, more than 23.5 million people suffer from food crisis -- those who are forced to skip one or two meals in a day -- due to climate change,” said Kang Moon-su, researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, during a session at the Electric and Autonomous Agriculture Expo.
Kang called for active cooperation from South Korea, adding that some 28 million Africans suffer from starvation and immigrate to other countries or become refugees.
Kang Tae-kyung, a researcher at the state-run Rural Development Administration, echoed the view, saying the country should offer more customized technological support to African agriculture.
For example, the RDA provided Zimbabwe with soybean threshers and other soybean machinery that can be used in cultivating corn, the country’s staple food, Kang said.
“Even though Africa has vast agricultural lands, the price of purchasing or borrowing farming machines are higher than people’s income. Korea should introduce price-effective small cultivators rather than expensive tractors,” added Kang.
Lee Seok-jin, CEO at Leehwa Industry, also said Korean companies should target small or medium-sized agriculture machinery businesses in Africa, since the US and other countries are dominating the market share in large tractors.
African ambassadors to Korea pinned high hopes for Africa’s shift from traditional cultivation methods highly dependent on manpower to agricultural mechanization.
Rwanda Ambassador Yasmin D. Amri Sued commented, “We cannot just copy and paste other nations' agricultural technology. In that sense, Korea has a special advantage (to export its agricultural technology to Rwanda) since it shares similar characteristics of land."
Tanzania Ambassador Togolani Edriss Mavura said that as young Tanzanians are not attracted to traditional ways of agriculture, the country needs to speed up the modernization process in the farming business.
Officially "IEVE Expo: The 1st Electric and Autonomous Agriculture,” the expo is co-hosted by the International Electric Vehicle Expo, the Korea Global EV Association Network, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and the Korea Agricultural Machinery Forum. It is being held at the Jeju Agriculture Technology Institute in Seogwipo from Tuesday to Friday. The Korea Herald is a media partner for the event.