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Country Briefs

  Republic of Korea

Reference Date: 23-June-2020


  1. Plantings of 2020 paddy crop to continue declining

  2. Below‑average cereal production estimated for 2019

  3. Cereal import requirements in 2019/20 marketing year forecast above five‑year average

Plantings of 2020 paddy crop to continue declining

Planting of the 2020 paddy crop, for harvest in September and October, is progressing at a normal pace supported by favourable weather conditions and ample supplies of irrigation water. Overall, the 2020 paddy output is preliminarily forecast at a below‑average level, reflecting reduced plantings, as paddy land will continue to be shifted to more profitable crops or to other purposes, such as housing and constructions.

The 2020 maize crop, to be harvested by the end of August, is growing under generally favourable weather conditions. As of mid‑May, remote sensing data indicated above‑average vegetation conditions (see ASI map) in the main producing areas. The area planted is estimated at an above‑average level, driven by strong demand by the feed industry.

Harvesting of the 2020 winter crops, mainly barley and wheat, will conclude at the end of June and the outputs are forecast at near‑average levels of 125 000 and 30 000 tonnes, respectively.

Below‑average cereal production estimated in 2019

The 2019 season was completed at the end of October 2019. The aggregate cereal output is estimated at 5.3 million tonnes, about 8 percent below the five‑year average.

Paddy production is officially estimated at 5 million tonnes, about 10 percent below the five‑year average. The planted area with paddy crops has been steadily declining since 2002, as farmers have progressively switched to alternative crops, in part reflecting a decrease in rice consumption. The production of the minor cereal crops, including maize, barley and wheat, is estimated at near‑average levels.

Cereal import requirements in 2019/20 marketing year forecast above five‑year average

The country relies on imports to satisfy its domestic demand as local production covers only one‑fifth of the cereal requirements.

Cereal import requirements in the 2019/20 marketing year (October/September) are forecast at an above‑average level of 14.9 million tonnes. Imports of maize, which account for the largest share of annual cereal imports, are set to reach a near‑record level of 10.3 million tonnes, driven by the sustained demand of the feed industry. Wheat and rice imports are forecast at a near‑average level of 4.1 million tonnes and about 400 000 tonnes, respectively.

COVID‑19 and measures adopted by the Government

Starting from February 2020, the Government adopted several measures to prevent the spread of the COVID‑19 virus, including restrictions on international travel and tightened controls of movement of people. In addition, educational institutions and public facilities were closed in March and April, but started to gradually re-open under “everyday life quarantine” guidelines since May.

The Government announced the implementation of several packages to support the national economy, including credit support for local businesses, wage subsidies and assistance for the unemployed as well as cash transfers to the affected households. On 14 May 2020, the Government announced plans, still pending approval by the National Assembly, to create 1.56 million jobs in the public sector, in order to boost employment.

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