Sunday, July 19, 2015

Korean Farmers' Sunday

Today we  celebrate the 20th Farmers' Day in Korea-- remembered each year on the third Sunday of July. The Korean bishops established Farmers' Day to bring the problems of the farmers to all the parishioners and to mobilize concern for the farmers in 'save the farm movement'. They were also concerned to thank the farmers for their participation in the work of creation.

In the two editorials in the Catholic papers, sadly, we learn that during the past 20 years matters have become worse. The money invested in farming  and the farmers' assets have decreased. The potential for growth also has eroded.

Production has increased  by 20 percent and the prices have increased by 39 percent;  farming materials have increased by 112 percent and gross income has decreased by 36 percent. The import of farm products have increased two fold and commodity prices have increased 82 percent. The gap between city and country has also increased. With the free trade agreement and the import of foreign rice, which is much cheaper, does not point to a bright  future for farming.

"Solidarity and Fraternal Charity" is the theme of the the bishops' message to the Church.  All the citizens need to be concerned with the life on the farms. Many have been interested in cooperatives, and buying locally and  working for food sovereignty: the right to healthy food produced and controlled by the farmers. These efforts have been made but with little success.

The government has been  concerned with the growth of the industrial section for good reason for that is where the biggest changes are found, but for the good of the country and the future of Korea it may be the time to think deeper and not put all the eggs in the same basket.

Young people are leaving the country for the cities, and the elderly farmers are not being replace which means that we will see changes in the country in the years to come. Farming is a treasure and the benefits for the whole country are not readily seen and once lost will be difficult to regain.

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