Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Difficulties of Korean Farmers

Korea is now ready for a new rice harvest and still much of last year's rice remains. In a news letter for priests we are being asked to be enthusiastic in helping the farmers to sell their produce by dealing directly with the people in the parishes. This has been one of the goals of Save Our Farm Movement.

Cardinal Stephen Kim's homily at the Mass that inaugurated the movement back in in 1994 said : "If we lose the farms we lose our birthplaces. If we ruin the farms it is like ruining ourselves. The pain of the farmers should be our pain."

The desire is to link the farms with the city dwellers to sell the farm produce. There are many outlets in parishes that try to facilitate this direct buying from the farms. The reasons for this concern are listed as:

1) To take care of our health and lives we must avoid becoming subservient to other countries at the table and to avoid tainted foods.

2) Understand the place of food for Korea's national security.

3) The place of farms in balancing the economics of the country.

4) To protect our national lands and environment.

5) Keep the population from gravitating to the cities.

6) The driving force behind development and a resource for tourism.

7) To provide natural settings, rest areas and to experience the verdure of the country.

8) To have an alternative to the industrial society that we have made.

The pastor's intention in the article was to alert us to the plight of the farmers and asking us to support the farmers in selling their produce. Rice production of the country has been abundant in recent years with very good harvests, while the populace is eating less rice. Younger people have not continued the eating habits of the older generation; imports especially from China have hurt the farmers with the cheaper prices. Farming co-ops take the premium types of rice but the other varieties the farmers have to find their own markets, a problem for many. The international price of rice is much cheaper so we can see what will happen when we have tariff barriers disappear.

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