The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Minister Chung Hwang-keun, MAFRA) announced that it would join the international efforts to overcome global food crisis by continuously providing 50,000 tons of rice to 6 countries with acute food crisis suffering from worsening food shortages caused by COVID-19, conflicts, climate crisis, etc. through the World Food Programme (WFP) this year.
The Republic of Korea pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice as food assistance to the international community when joining the Food Assistance Convention (FAC) in January 2018 and has been providing 50,000 tons of rice every year to refugees and internally displaced people in countries suffering from food crisis.
The Korean government plans to provide 50,000 tons of rice to 6 countries by adding Syria and Afghanistan to the existing four recipient countries (Yemen, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda), considering the urgency based on the Global Hunger Index and the recipient countries' acceptability of Korean rice.
Beginning with the first departure of rice to Syria from the Newport International Terminal in Busan on April 22, all of the rice for assistance will depart from 4 ports (Ulsan, Gunsan, Mokpo, Busan) consecutively, arrive in the recipient countries from June to July and then will be distributed from July.
The Republic of Korea's rice assistance has been provided to 3~4 million refugees and internally displaced people every year, contributing greatly to the international community's emergency relief, and the recipients are highly satisfied with the food assistance.
According to "The state of food security and nutrition in the world," an annual report jointly published by 5 international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WFP in July 2022, 828 million people in the world faced hunger in 2021, up by 46 million compared to that of 2020. This accounts for 9.8% of the total population of the world. In other words, the number of people facing hunger greatly increased in a short period of time, compared to 8% in 2019.
Also, according to "the State of School Feeding Worldwide 2022" published in this March by WFP, 153 million children and young people are facing severe food crisis in the world.
Global food crisis has been unprecedently deteriorated due to rising global cereal prices caused by COVID 19 and conflicts. As a result, interest and support of the international community are needed more than ever. Amid this situation, the Korean government will continue its food assistance for developing countries which need emergency food support.
Director General Jeong Hae-ryun of the International Cooperation Bureau of MAFRA said, "This year marks 60 years since Korea asked for emergency relief to the WFP and 6 years since Korea began its food assistance. Korea is the only exemplary country which turned itself from a food recipient to a donor country within just a generation. Going forward, we will further develop the food assistance project to achieve the United Nations’ second sustainable development goal, zero hunger."
The Director General added, "To contribute to addressing global food crisis, we will expand the "K-Ricebelt project" to support the production·distribution of "Tong-il," a high-yielding rice variety developed in Korea (ISRIZ-6,7*, etc.) to African countries which consume rice as a staple food in the continent with the highest number of hungry people in the world."
* Rice varieties developed by the Rural Development Administration for African countries in 2017, with 2~3 times higher productivity compared to local varieties.