The entire world has its eyes on the new value in agriculture.
The United States is pushing forward with the "Vertical Farm" project, a high-rise farm. Japan already operates roughly 50 plant factories nationwide. Bio & Pharmaceutical companies are heavily investing in developing new medicine and artificial organs by using animals and plants.
It has been long since the global seed and grain market has turned into an arena of competition for major capital. Now, common interest groups are uniting to come up with strategic tactics to claim such capital.
Industrialized countries engage in a battle to secure foreign farmland. The land area secured by these countries during the past four years is 11 times larger than that of South Korea.
As agriculture, originally recognized as a primary industry, transformed into a "6th+ a" industry, the agriculture war for technology, capital and land has broken out. The "6th+ a" industry is a concept that covers the primary, secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary (service) industry and plus α for convergence. The agriculture industry combines IT, BT and GT to infinitely broaden the field.
According to a market research firm Research & Markets, the agricultural market in the world is expected to expand by more than 30% to record 1.84 trillion won ($1.61 billion) in 2012, which stood at 1.39 trillion won in 2007. When it expands its scope to the Agri-food market, the growth potential is enormous. The Datamonitor, a global business information provider, recently released a report that said the world’s food market will expand 45% reaching $6.35 trillion in 10 years.
But, South Korea is on the verge of losing the opportunity not making a full use of the agriculture as the leverage for the economic growth. For the last three decades, all of the indexes for South Korean agriculture have deteriorated. Out of 3.19 million farmers, about one third of the total (1.06 million) is over 65 years old. What is worse, the trade deficit of the Agri-Food surged 4.7 times compare to that of a decade ago registering $18.8 billion (based on the estimation in 2008).
Maeil Business Newspaper, one of South Korea’s major Business newspapers, selected the following five reasons for the retrogression of the South Korean agricultural industry - the production structure focusing too much on rice cultivation, subsidies for agriculture which had been operated politically, the principle made to protect farmers which says only the farmers can own the farm land became nominal, the agricultural organizations which deny renovation and the farmers heavily-dependent on supports from the nation. All of these five reasons are standing in the way of the nation’s agricultural development.
However, if we think in a different way, the agricultural industry can be a new growth engine for the South Korean economy. To this end, Maeil Business Newspaper and Maeil Business TV MBN will host "The 17th Vision Korea National Conference" at the Hotel Shilla on March 24, celebrating the 44th anniversary of its first publication. It will provide new visions and strategies for the nation’s agriculture industry.
[Written by Special Report Team - Minjeong Song, Jin Choi / edited by Soyoung Chung]