North Chungcheong, SOUTH KOREA, March 13 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean grape farms are going out of business as they are having difficulty competing with American and Chilean grape exporters following FTA agreements with both countries.
In Yeongdong and Okcheon County in North Chungcheong Province, well-known grape-producing districts, nearly a third of the grape farms have shut down in the aftermath of FTAs that saw cheaper imported fruits dominate the South Korean grape market.
Although the grape farms from both counties account for 11 percent of all grapes produced in South Korea, their production has been declining since a peak in 2010.
In response to the domination of foreign grapes, the South Korean government is now offering local grape farmers who go out of business 5,855 won ($5.1) per 3.3m² of farmland and 9,015 won ($7.93) per 3.3m² of greenhouse space in compensation, as part of a scheme initiated in 2015 to help South Korean farmers get back on track and start new businesses.
Oh Yong-un, head of Yeongdong’s grape interest group, said, “Since FTAs took effect, it’s true that the production and profitability of grape growing went down, but fewer farmers due to an aging population is also another reason that makes grape growing in Korea more difficult.”
Grapes are often thought to be a difficult fruit to grow as they require the thorny process of pruning and peeling tree bark, while they lose to fruits with an easier growing process like peaches in profitability.
On the recent fall of grape production, a local government official from Okcheon County said, “Most grape farmers who are closing down are aged over 70. Young farmers go for peaches and cherries as growing grapes is more difficult and less profitable.”
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)