JEONJU, July 26 (Korea Bizwire) – LG Group’s latest foray in the agricultural sector isn’t likely to go unopposed.
LG CNS, an IT affiliate of LG Group, revealed earlier this month it would invest 380 billion won to build a farming complex called Smart Biopark, which will cover approximately 76 hectares of land, in the Saemangeum area in North Jeolla Province.
The Smart Biopark will encompass a high-tech greenhouse, plant factory, and R&D, processing, and distribution facilities. The greenhouse, according to LG CNS, is ten times more productive than existing greenhouses, and can help reduce the costs of conventional farming.
However, farmers’ organizations and the North Jeolla provincial assembly are actively protesting the efforts, claiming that corporate expansion in agriculture will further threaten farmers’ livelihoods.
At a recent press conference held by farmers’ organizations in front of the North Jeolla Provincial legislature, the group argued that farmers will eventually “end up as laborers for conglomerates if LG steps into agriculture”, and demanded that the province and the government provide measures to stop LG from entering the industry.
“LG’s endeavor will ultimately destroy the little that is left of domestic controlled horticulture,” said the group. “We’ll do everything in our power, including boycotting LG products, to stop (the business from succeeding).”
The Korean Advanced Farmers Federation also held a press conference in front of the FKI (Federation of Korean Industries) building in Seoul, protesting LG to halt all of its agricultural ventures, and demanding the government to pass new laws that would fundamentally stop larger corporations from entering the agriculture industry.
In fact, the domestic production area for controlled horticulture has reached its saturation point. Furthermore, poor domestic consumption and exports in recent years have resulted in plummeting produce prices. Opposition groups warn that LG’s new venture will ultimately bring about the total collapse of Korea’s controlled horticulture industry.
“It is obvious that LG’s business expansion will result in the collapse of the Korean agriculture industry,” said Lee Hyun-sook, a member of the North Jeolla Provincial Assembly, who proposed a ‘restraint resolution for LG’s agriculture business’ on July 22. “Still, the government (Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) displays a pro-corporate behavior, organizing business information sessions for LG.”
“Corporations have reaped more than enough profits from free trade agreements. Now, they’re even trying to take over the lives of farmers.”
By Joseph Shin (email@example.com)