Gov’t to promote locally produced wheat, soybeans

By Lee Kyung-min



The Korea Times Co.


The government is accelerating efforts to improve the quality and promote the consumption of locally produced wheat over the next five years, as part of measures to raise the food self-sufficiency rate to over 55 percent. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp. (aT), a state-run ministry-affiliated firm, the self-sufficiency rate for the widely used crop will be raised to 7.9 percent, up from 0.8 percent as of 2020. The plan will help the country’s total self-sufficiency rate reach over 55 percent by 2027, up from 45.8 percent as of 2020. Also factored in is the need to better prepare for food crises in the event of continued global geopolitical volatilities. Greater government grants and policy assistance will lead to a gradual increase in the number of wheat production complexes nationwide, as evidenced by the number rising to 74 this year, up 45 percent from 51 the year before. A quarter of the total produced will be purchased by the government to dispel oversupply concerns. Quality assessment and improvement measures will be introduced in stages to help the locally produced crop gain consumer recognition and subsequent price advantages in the market. Many local food manufacturers can join the campaign to promote the consumption of locally produced wheat, as best exemplified by SPC Samlip, a local manufacturer and distributor of food and materials. SPC Samlip — the fourth-largest market player in Korea with a market share of 11 percent — is the leader in using the aT-managed local crop as input material for its confectioneries, bakeries and restaurants. More quality, lower-priced Korean wheat “Over 99 percent of wheat is imported, but it does not have to be,” aT CEO Kim Choon-jin said at the press meeting at the SPC Samlip Sejong Center, Wednesday. The quality can be vastly improved with technological and other policy assistance, and the current high prices will be lowered through government purchase programs, in his view. “The government measures will fortify food security, increasingly becoming vulnerable to external uncertainties and shocks not unlike the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said. “We will continue efforts to meet the target of a 7.9-percent self-sufficiency rate for wheat by 2027.”