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S. Korea to share rice farming techniques at African Summit

29 April 2024

Kenya is among eight African nations expected to benefit from South Korea's K-rice belt initiative aimed at providing farmers with quality rice varieties and sharing top-notch farming know-how.

This is expected to take centre stage at the planned South Korea-Africa Summit slated for June 4 to 5 in Seoul.

Kenya's president William Ruto has already confirmed attendance at the summit themed 'The Future We Make Together, Shared Growth, Sustainability and Solidarity'.

Last October, Seoul signed a memorandum of understanding with Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and Guinea Bissau aimed at ensuring their sustainable food security.

As part of Seoul's official development assistance (ODA), the project calls for supplying high-yield rice varieties and agricultural machines, helping Africa build irrigation and other necessary facilities, and sharing experiences and technologies regarding crop cultivation and distribution.

The initiative aims to harvest some 2,000 tons of rice varieties in Africa this year, with the figure to rise to over 10,000 tons combined per year starting 2027, a level enough to feed around 30 million people in the underdeveloped nations annually, it added.

"As a long-term, comprehensive supportive project, the K-rice belt programme is expected to contribute to fundamentally resolving the food shortage problem in Africa and to enable Africa to achieve the sustainable development of the agriculture industry.

During a session of the Group of Seven summit held in Japan in May last year, President Yoon Suk Yeol vowed to enhance South Korea's support for nations facing a food crisis through various ODA programs and to double the country's food aid to the World Food Program to 100,000 tons per year.

The East Asian nation is exploring areas of cooperation with African countries across all sectors, including the economy, healthcare, and social development.

The Asian nation wants to achieve $10 billion in agricultural exports in 2023, promoting IT-mediated smart farming technologies and the capabilities of strong local players.

The goal is to push up the figure further to $15 billion in 2027.

Rice is the only grain that has registered a self-sufficiency rate of a robust 84.6 percent in Korea as about 80 percent of other crops are imported.

This builds on already strong relations with Kenya, recently cemented by President William Ruto’s official three-day visit to Seoul soon after his election, where the country sought to deepen collaborations in ICT, education, pharmaceutical and infrastructure, among other areas.

Kenya and South Korea have enjoyed strong bilateral ties over the years, including in trade, despite volumes being in favor of the latter.

According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2023, the value of imports from South Korea increased from Sh22.3 billion in 2021 to Sh50.2 billion in 2022, mainly due to increased imports of kerosene-type jet fuel.

Exports equally increased to Sh6.1 billion, from Sh3.9 billion.

Kenya’s main exports include coffee, titanium ore, and scrap copper among others.

Kenya imports include iron and steel, organic chemicals, machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers, and manmade staple fibers, among others.

Source : msn