By Feature Editor Kim Hyung-dae
The Rural Development Administration (RDA) is carrying out a full-scale promotion of healing agriculture that helps people's healthy life. Administrator Hur Taewoong of the RDA said that the RDA has conducted a research and development and spread of ‘Healing Agriculture’ to help the people's healthy life through agricultural activities as the 'Healing Agriculture Research and Development and Promotion Act' was implemented on March 24, 2020 and implemented on March 25, 2021.
Healing agriculture means an industry that utilizes various agricultural and rural resources and creates social or economic value-added through activities related to the recovery, maintenance and promotion of public health.
In many advanced countries, research and development and technology to verify the effectiveness of healing agriculture (Agro-medical or Agro-healing), various business models, and quality-control measures are already supported at the national level and legal grounds for nurturing experts are being established.
With this enactment of the “Healing Agriculture Act,” a legal foundation for research and development, on-the-spot commercialization, and support of professional manpower has been laid so that agricultural and rural resources can be used safely and beneficially in the future.
The RDA supports the sound growth of ‘Healing Agriculture’ by proving scientific healing effects and suppying and spreading by using agricultural and rural resources, developing standardization of healing agricultural services, and proposing a profit-generating model using healing farming.
The RDA develops and provides standardized healing services by introducing national qualifications (healing farmers), and establishes a cooperative system between the central and local governments, such as quality management of healing agricultural services, development of related products, and training of professional manpower.
And the program is expected to produce a great deal of socioeconomic values. The Rural Development Administration estimated the social and economic value of healing agriculture at 3.7 trillion won (as of 2017).
Meanwhile, the RDA started researching the healing effects of horticultural crops such as flowers and vegetables in early 1990s, established the concept of “healing agriculture” in 2013, and has been verified the health promotion effects of healing agriculture.
From 2017, a pilot project to foster healing agriculture was introduced to expand healing agricultural services.
For those with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, the reduction of waist circumference (about 2cm), bad cholesterol (LDL) reduction (9.2%), insulin secretion function increase (47%), stress hormone reduction (28.1%), etc. the effectiveness was verified.
For the elderly (65 years or older), depression was reduced by 60% through activities such as planting vegetables, planting tomatoes, planting flowers, and making herbal teas at the Silver Weekend Farm.
Total cholesterol decreased by 5% and body fat percentage decreased by 2%, respectively, indicating that healing farm activities are effective in promoting mental and physical health.
Healing agriculture was also effective in mitigating school violence, such as a decrease in violence (4.3%) of perpetrators and depression of victims (5.4%) who participated in garden activities in schools.
Chang Jung-hee, head of the healing agriculture propulsion team, said, “With the implementation of the 'Healing Agriculture Act' at the National Assembly, improvement will be made for the sustainable growth of agriculture and rural communities, raising the quality of life of the people to one step higher level, and contributing to the spread of the social value of government innovation.” Then he said, “We will concentrate to make more efforts for further development of the healing agriculture.
Many foreign countries also have been implementing various policies and systems for healing agriculture.
Such foreign countries as Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are carrying out healing agriculture-related regulations and laws as the basis for financial support for healing farms.
For instance, Italy enacted social agriculture in 2015, the Netherlands has the national health law (AWBZ), Belgium has court regulations for recognition of healing farms, and the Britain operates acts on healing agriculture-related education and program operation fundamentals.