|▲ Korea Wheat Industry Association / President Park Sung-han|
Wheat flowed into South Korea through US foreign aid in 1956. After 1985, the government discontinued purchase on import freedom but the market barely survived. In fact, the market's self-sufficiency rate still stays mere 1.2% today. In 2019, however, the wheat festival was resumed in 35 years and from February 2020 the Wheat Industry Promotion Act started to take effect. The Act provides legal base for domestically grown wheat to be supplied to state-run group feeding facilities at firt hand.
The Korea Wheat Industry Association set sail in May 2010 to promote domestic wheat market and to build self-sufficient wheat produce and supply. The Association president Park Sung-han has served an honorary researcher at the National Institute of Crop Science, vice president of the Rural Development Administration Field-Specialist Association, president of the Korea Seed & Variety Service Seed Production Complex, and chairman of the Guryong Village Self-Development Committee.
The Korea Wheat Industry Association engages in policy, distribution, pricing, marketing and research on global market trend. It works either independently or in cooperation with interested parties including central and local governments depending on the projects.
"Wheat producers once produced 30,000 tons but the market was small and many of them had to give up. Without consumption of domestically grown wheat, things would not change. This was the reason we formed the Association and we will keep working hard to improve things" says Park.
"In order to increase sales of domestic wheat, it is important to turn temporary self-funding of the Association to compulsory self-funding like the Hanwoo Board and this will protect domestic products against the imported. Also important are compulsory GMO marking on half of the 4 million tons of imported wheat for edible as well as Korean wheat with country or region of origin. In addition, it might be a good idea that the government supports 30,000 tons of the wheat to North Korea in advance."
Park adds "Another thing that makes growing wheat in South Korea difficult is the government's requirement of more than 100 million won (92,013 USD) initial capital, more than 50ha field and more than 1 year experience of running a farm. These requirements are hard to be met considering the current situations. So the government rather should bring up region by region requirements so that some wheat farmers would not be disadvantaged. Meanwhile, we also work in cooperation with the Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association and the Korea Franchise Association on purchase of domestic wheat."
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