Innovation, Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability in Korea

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Agriculture in Korea is under increasing pressure to meet changing domestic demand, improve its productivity to keep up with the country's competitive manufacturing sector, and become more competitive at the international level. To date, the government has offered extensive support to farm income via price support, direct payments, preferential tax treatment, and reduced input prices. However, a more comprehensive policy approach is required to address the low-income problem in agriculture, and a more comprehensive rural development policy is also required to create employment opportunities for the younger generation.

Korea should explore its potential to export niche agricultural products and processed food that reflect its rich and unique food culture. To unleash the sector’s potential, agricultural policy should focus on improving the productivity and sustainability of commercial enterprises and develop the food processing sector. The country's agricultural innovation system should become more integrated and collaborative, benefiting from its strong competitive advantage in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

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Executive summary

Korea has achieved the fastest growing income per capita amongst the OECD economies over the past 25 years. During that time, the share of primary agriculture in the economy has declined as its export-driven economy has reallocated capital and human resources to manufacturing. The food and agriculture sector has been under pressure to meet changing domestic demand, to improve its productivity to keep up with the highly competitive manufacturing sector and to increase its exposure to international competition under the GATT Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture and bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The societal demand on agriculture has diversified from focussing on stable supply of food to other functions of agriculture, such as preservation of natural resource and ecosystem as well as traditional culture and rural landscape.


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