The Korea Herald


Farming households dip below 1m for first time in 2023

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : April 18, 2024 - 15:13

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Farmers work in a potato field in Gangwon Province on March 19. (Yonhap) Farmers work in a potato field in Gangwon Province on March 19. (Yonhap)

The number of farming households in South Korea fell below 1 million for the first time last year, while over half of the country's farming population was aged 65 or older, latest data showed Thursday.

According to Statistics Korea, there were an estimated 999,000 farming households as of Dec. 1, a decrease of 24,000, or 2.3 percent, compared with 2022.

This is the first time since the survey began in 1949 that the number has dipped below 1 million. However, Statistics Korea cautioned that the figure is an estimate based on a sample of 47,725 households, with a margin of error of about plus or minus 10,000 households.

In terms of household size, two-person households were the most prevalent, accounting for 57.5 percent of all farming households, while one-person households accounted for 226,000 households, or 22.6 percent.

The total farming population also declined, falling by 77,000 individuals, or 3.5 percent, to 2,089,000 compared with the previous year.

People aged 70 and older make up the largest share, at 767,000, or 36.7 percent of the total, followed by those in their 60s (640,000) and 50s (312,000).

The proportion of elderly farmers, defined as those 65 and older, reached a record high of 52.6 percent, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from 2022.

This is significantly higher than the overall elderly population figure in South Korea, which stands at 18.2 percent, highlighting the severity of aging in the agricultural sector.

Regarding sales of agricultural and livestock products, 64.5 percent of farming households reported sales below 10 million won ($7,200), while only 4.2 percent exceeded 100 million won.