November 1, 2018 ( By Yonhap News Agency )
SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's agriculture ministry said Thursday it has submitted a new target price for rice to parliament, having originally set it at a lower-than-expected level.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it set the target price at 188,192 won (US$165.12) per 80 kilograms for rice harvested from 2018 to 2022, slightly higher than the current price of 188,000 won.
Agriculture minister Lee Gae-ho earlier said the price should be over 194,000 won to reflect the country's inflation rate over the past five years, while agriculture associations demanded the price be set at over 200,000 won.
The price is adjusted every five years to serve as a benchmark when the government calculates subsidies for local farmers. It needs parliamentary approval before taking effect.
In South Korea, the government annually purchases homegrown rice to stabilize a domestic market plagued by chronic oversupply and provide subsidies to rice farmers.
The supply glut comes as a growing number of South Koreans have been reducing their rice intake and diversifying their diets with alternatives like wheat, barley, beans and corn.
The government's rice stockpile reached 1.86 million tons in 2017, more than double the appropriate level of 800,000 tons, the ministry said. It expressed concerns over the supply glut and the associated rise in storage costs.