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Korea rice output to fall to 31-year low

South Korea’s rice production is expected to fall to the lowest level in 31 years due to bad weather and a steady decrease in the size of rice paddies, a government report showed Monday.

The report by Statistics Korea said the country’s rice production could reach 4.21 million tons this year, down 1.9 percent from around 4.29 million tons harvested in 2010.

If production falls to this level, it will mark the lowest annual harvest of the staple crop since unseasonably cold weather caused output to plunge to 3.55 million tons in 1980.

“Bad weather conditions and fewer paddies being used to grow rice this year have contributed to the poor output forecast,” the government agency said.

A conclusive report on the country’s rice output is due out in mid-November.

Reflecting the bad weather conditions, the average rice production for a 10-acre paddy is expected to reach 495 kilograms this year, from the median average of 499 kilograms tallied in the past five years.

The report, meanwhile, showed the total area of rice paddies in the country fell 4.3 percent on-year to an all-time low of 854,000 hectares, as more farmland was converted for other uses. A hectare is equivalent to 10,000 square meters.

The size of South Korea’s farmland has been decreasing steadily in recent years, as the government eased restrictions on rural development and moved to build more roads and other industry-related infrastructure over paddies and fields. (Yonhap News)