SEOUL, Sept. 3 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea plans to allocate a whopping 248 billion won (US$203 million) for next year to nurture the country’s smart farming industry, Seoul’s agriculture ministry said Tuesday.
The budget, which must be approved by parliament later this year, marks a more than 50-percent surge from 162 billion won earmarked for this year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Smart farming technology centers on automatically controlling the environment to raise different crops and animals based on a customized database.
“If South Korea fails to promptly adopt smart farming, we may lag far behind other global rivals in the area,” the ministry said in a statement, claiming the country needs to harness cutting-edge technologies at local farms in a timely manner.
The government plans to provide local farmers with testbeds to try out new smart farming technologies, including providing smart farms for lease.
The budget will also be used to provide education courses to young farmers, especially to cope with the aging population in rural areas.
The ministry will prepare consulting programs to help livestock farms modernize their facilities and adopt information-communication technology (ICT) equipments and robot milking machines.
Other projects include developing self-driving tractors and various robots designed exclusively for agriculture.
South Korea has been making efforts to beef up the price-competitiveness of its agricultural products, especially amid the growing calls from other nations to lower trade barriers in the area.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently named South Korea, Mexico and Turkey as countries unfairly claiming developing-country status even though they are members of both the Group of 20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
South Korea has maintained its developing-country status since 1995 mainly to protect its sensitive agriculture industry.