KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (10 February)
Rice, the country’s main cereal, is sown from mid-May and harvested from mid-September. The 2003 paddy crop is officially estimated to be the lowest in a decade at 6 million tonnes, some 9.6 percent lower than the previous year and 14.3 percent below the average of the previous five years. The rice crop was hit by prolonged heavy rains and a very powerful typhoon, Maemi, which severely damaged the southern provinces, the heart of Korea’s rice belt. The government’s initiative to reduce rice production also contributed towards the record low harvest in 2003.
Most of the country’s food needs are met through imports. The import requirement of cereals in the 2003/04 marketing year (October/September) has been estimated at 3.2 million tonnes of wheat, 8.8 million tonnes of maize and 0.3 million tonnes of other grains.