Africa

Empowering Africa’s Agriculture: South Korea’s K-Rice Initiative and the Path to Mutual Growth

What you need to know more about

  • According to a report by The East African, while rice isn’t a dietary staple in much of East Africa, it remains a significant cereal in the region.
  • Ngovi Kitau, a former Kenyan ambassador to South Korea, emphasized the importance of African countries aligning their priorities with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and leveraging local think tanks to develop substantive policy proposals.

According to a report by The East African, while rice isn’t a dietary staple in much of East Africa, it remains a significant cereal in the region. Recognizing this, Koreans have introduced K-Rice, a technology aimed at increasing rice yields. Kenya and Uganda have been early adopters, but the initiative is set to expand across a broader swath of Africa, including countries like Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ghana, and Cameroon. The project has already yielded impressive results, with 2,040 tonnes of seed produced in 2023. By 2027, Kenya and Uganda are expected to produce an average of 2,300 tonnes of seed per year, contributing to enhanced food security in the region.

Kim Hwang Yong, director-general for Technology Cooperation Bureau of the Rural Development Administration in South Korea, emphasized the importance of locally rooted technologies for sustainable impact. He highlighted South Korea’s own journey from poverty to industrialization after the Korean War and stressed the country’s commitment to reciprocating international assistance by aiding others.

The upcoming Korea-Africa Summit, while not solely focused on agriculture, presents an opportunity for African leaders to pitch their preferred forms of cooperation. South Korea’s Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, Chung Byung-won, emphasized the country’s willingness to tailor its assistance to the specific needs of African nations, focusing on both quantity and quality.

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Despite South Korea’s comparatively modest official development assistance to Africa, it has contributed significantly to initiatives such as the Knowledge Sharing Programme (KSP), which promotes collaboration between Korean institutions and African agencies. South Korea aims to double its assistance to Africa by 2030, with a focus on aligning with Africa’s own growth ambitions and addressing trade barriers.

Ngovi Kitau, a former Kenyan ambassador to South Korea, emphasized the importance of African countries aligning their priorities with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and leveraging local think tanks to develop substantive policy proposals. He emphasized the need for actionable policies over mere rhetoric.

Seoul’s interest in Africa’s burgeoning market and mineral resources presents opportunities for both parties. Kitau suggested that Africa should advocate for local processing of minerals to maximize their value. Ultimately, the summit represents a chance for Africa and South Korea to forge mutually beneficial partnerships for shared growth and sustainability.

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