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South Korea commits to sharing high-yielding rice seeds and agricultural experience to increase rice productivity in Africa

The Asian country has signed a memorandum of understanding with 30 African countries.


Rice cropfields.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) and the Rural Development Administration (RDA) held the Korea-Africa Agricultural Conference on June 5, 2024 in Seoul, under the theme “The future we make together.” : Agricultural unit in Korea and Africa. The official side event of the Korea-Africa Summit produced fruitful results in deepening agricultural cooperation between South Korea and Africa.

The event was attended by approximately 300 people, including President Azali Assoumani of the Union of the Comoros, President Andry Rajoelina of the Republic of Madagascar and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Ministers and deputy ministers from 10 African countries also attended the event (participants at ministerial level came from Angola, the African Union, Comoros, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe; and participants at the deputy minister level came from Angola and Ghana); delegations of governments, companies and civic groups from more than 30 countries; and officials from international organizations, with the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the African Rice Center (AfricaRice), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), between them; and journalists and reporters from outside and inside South Korea.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Song Miryung said in her welcome speech: “We hope to become a true partner for Africa's agricultural growth in various fields such as smart agriculture, improving rice productivity, the processing of agricultural products, the improvement of living conditions in rural agricultural areas and others.” The presidents of African countries expressed high expectations for South Korea's agricultural cooperation projects, including the K-Ricebelt project, through their congratulatory speeches.

At the opening ceremony of the Korea-Africa Agricultural Conference, ministers from four African countries (the Republic of Angola, the Republic of Madagascar, the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of Zimbabwe) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the participation in the K-Ricebelt project with Minister Song Miryung. This additional signing of the MoU has brought the total number of countries participating in the K-Ricebelt project to fourteen. The K-Ricebelt project is an official development assistance (ODA) project aimed at sharing South Korea's high-yielding rice seeds and agricultural expertise to increase rice productivity in Africa. The Union of the Comoros also signed an MoU with MAFRA on the exchange of agricultural knowledge and enhancing public-private cooperation.

In a presentation and discussion session following the opening ceremony, ministers from six African countries: the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Madagascar, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of Sierra Leone—explained his government's agricultural policies and emphasized the reasons for the importance of cooperation with South Korea.

Additionally, in the session, MAFRA, the GDR and the Ministry of the Interior and Security explained the projects that have been carried out through cooperation between South Korea and Africa, including food aid, construction of agricultural infrastructure, supply of agricultural machinery, agricultural technology research and development, agricultural technology supply, Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement), etc. The Korean side also shared with the African side the main achievements achieved through such projects.

Also in the session, Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel, Deputy Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa of the United Nations FAO, and Dr. Babourcarr Manneh, Director General of AfricaRice, made presentations on the topic of challenges for agriculture and rural agricultural areas in Africa and response measures. Presentations on the same topic were also made by officials from international organizations associated with agriculture, such as the AfDB, the Green Climate Fund, IFAD and the United Nations WFP.

Minister Song Miryung said, “Presidents and ministers of African countries participated in the Korea-Africa Agricultural Conference today. And they said they hoped to expand cooperation with South Korea to new areas such as strengthening agricultural value chains, applying digital technologies to agriculture and others beyond current cooperation projects, such as the K-Ricebelt project and KOPIA projects. Hearing this, I realized that Africa's expectations for agricultural cooperation with South Korea are very high.”

Minister Song added: “I will make every effort to ensure that what has been discussed today at this conference can develop into greater cooperation with Africa, so that Korean agriculture can be widely recognized around the world.”

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