GIEWS Country Brief: Republic of Korea 15-February-2013

Cereal harvest well below average in 2012

In the Republic of Korea, the main staple crop, paddy rice, is planted in May-June and harvested in September-October. The 2012 rice production is officially estimated at 5.4 million tonnes, some 4 percent lower than the previous year’s below-average output and about 11 percent lower than the previous five-year average. The contraction in 2012 production was partly due the protracted dry spell at the start of the season, and localised floods following the passing of several storms/typhoons in August and September. However, the area planted to paddy has been declining since early 2000 (see chart below) and particularly in recent years following the official decision to reduce paddy plantings to match the declining domestic rice consumption. The average paddy production for last five years (2007-2011) has been about 6 million tonnes (equivalent to 4.5 million tonnes of milled rice). In addition to rice, small quantities of barley, maize and other cereals are produced.

Generally, domestic production covers only about 30 percent of the total utilization of cereals in the country. Very little wheat and maize (for feed) are produced domestically, hence large quantities, of over 5 million tonnes and over 8 million tonnes, respectively, are imported annually. Small amount of rice, about 400 000 tonnes, is imported annually.

The country enjoys relatively low inflation. The latest available official data indicate that nationally the overall consumer price index (CPI) in December 2012 (year-on-year), increased by 1.4 percent.