South Koreas’ rice oversupply arising because of decline in rice consumption has led the government to donate rice to Myanmar and Cambodia. South Korean rice will be sent to Southeast Asian developing countries through an international food aid program for the first time in history, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. A panel of the ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) approved South Korea’s plan earlier this week to offer 750 tons of rice to the food aid program, out of which 500 tons will go to Myanmar and 250 tons to Cambodia. Launched in 2013 by 10 countries of the ASEAN, South Korea, Japan and China, APTERR is aimed at safeguarding the region’s food security in case of emergencies, such as floods and droughts.
According to the Ministry, “South Koreans’ eating habits have changed for years and this has led to a decline in rice consumption and a rice oversupply of 200,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes a year, which cannot be handled without large costs. The South Korean government will deal with this problem and contribute to humanity at the same time via the APTERR and the Food Assistance Convention it recently acceded to and by offering at least 50,000 tons of rice a year from next year onwards.” The ministry explained that it is the first time that the government-run rice stockpiles are donated to a third country through an international framework. South Korea is the only country in the world to have become a donor country after being a recipient of U.N. aid in half a century. This transformation has inspired many developing nations to follow in the country’s footsteps to advance their respective economies.