The Rural Development Administration (RDA) hosted a three-day event in Iksan between September 15-17, in celebration of the relocation of its headquarters to the Innovation City of Iksan, North Jeolla Province. At present at the event were by minister- and vice minister-level officials from 13 Latin countries, high-level representatives of KOPIA (Korea Project on International Agriculture) centers in the Philippines, Vietnam and other areas, Korean agricultural and food industry personnel, farmers and fishermen and citizens.
The Rural Development Administration inaugurated KoLFACI (Korea-Latin America Food & Agriculture Cooperation Initiative), hosted a KOPIA workshop, and showed a video on the “future leap forward of the RDA.” The future of the agriculture and food industry was also the main topic of a seminar.
Established in 1962, the Rural Development Administration was relocated to Iksan in August from Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, with a renewed vision which calls for development of novel agricultural technology for the next century.
The RDA has significantly contributed to a stable supply of grains through the development of Tongil-type Rice Varieties (Green Revolution) and introduction of year-round cropping systems in greenhouses (White Revolution of agriculture). Of late, the RDA remains dedicated to R&D activity on cutting-edge agricultural technology based on ICT conversion technology.
The RDA, which is the first central government agency relocated to an innovation city, is seeking to create a “Korean Silicone Valley of Agricultural and Biological Industry” by forming a cluster with agricultural and food institutions based in North Jeolla Province.
The RDA, along with its affiliated R&D entities, will seek to build new growth momentum for the province based on great synergies that can be created through a cluster with Iksan’s Food Cluster, Gimje’s Seed Valley and Saemangeum Agricultural Site.
On the international front, the RDA has been striving to build partnerships with developing countries as well as the domestic industry. Reflecting this effort, the administration took the initiative for the creation of KoLFACI. KoLFACI envisions the provision of customized agricultural technology to Latin America and increase of food production. Since most Central and South American countries attach heavy importance on agricultural development, the RDA will seek to expand agricultural cooperation with those countries.
Emphasis in this initiative will be placed on improvement of the productivity of small-scale farming, development and dissemination of cutting-edge agricultural technology and promotion of genetic resource technology. Thirteen countries and IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture) are represented in KoLFACI. The countries are Korea, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay.
While KOPIA centers are seeking to increase overall production and incomes of farming communities, AFACI (Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative) and KAFACI (Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative are designed to solve multilateral issues within a broader framework. AFACI was launched in 2009 with 11 member nations, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Mongolia. It aims to increase the average income in farming communities and address agricultural problems such as pest and disease control. KAFACI, which was launched in 2010, categorizes its tasks according to the scope and nature of the work that needs to be done, localizing needed support.
Meanwhile, agricultural experts got together to discuss various issues related to the future of the agricultural sector during the three-day event. Topics discussed included ways to strengthen R&D programs in the future agriculture, new roles and strategies of leading agricultural projects, and a “concert for conversion and creativity knowledge.”
There was also a photo exhibition which was focused on reviews of the development of agricultural technology and current R&D issues, along with global cooperation.
In addition to the inauguration of KoLFACI, a KOPIA workshop was held on September 15, with participation of representatives of nine countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia and the Philippines. They shared views on the future role of KOPIA and ways to increase mutual cooperation. After the workshop, they had time to inspect some farms.
Ra Seung-yong, deputy administrator of the Rural Development Administration, said that the relocation of the RDA in the Innovation City will help facilitate development of new growth momentum. “We will take the initiative in building a prosperous future with endless innovation and a spirit of challenge,” he said.
The Rural Development Administration will push for development of novel and basic agricultural biotechnology. It aims to develop fundamental and novel biotechnologies and produce the bio-crops against climate changes using high-throughput crop transformation and phenomics technologies. Cutting-edge genomics and bioinformatics will be used with the agriculturally-important plants and microbes. Hence, structural and functional genomics as well as operation of national database will be implemented as a result of completion of the Genome Project for plants (rice, Chinese cabbage, radish) and microbe (a pathogen of rice bacterial blight disease).