KRC shares know-how with developing world
By Lee Hyo-sik
The state-run Korea Rural Community Corp. (KRC), which has accumulated extensive know-how on farming techniques and agricultural infrastructure development over the decades, has been sharing its knowledge and experience with the developing world.
Now it wants to step up such efforts under the leadership of CEO Park Jae-soon, who has been at the helm for a year. The KRC has an annual budget of 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) and employs over 5,000 people.
Park has visited several developing nations, including Vietnam, to meet with senior government officials and industry leaders there.
On Sept. 18, Park held a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at the Presidential Place in Hanoi. During their meeting, Park was asked for the KRC to take a more active role in the modernization of the Southeast Asian nation’s agricultural sector.
High-ranking public officials from developing countries have also visited the KRC’s headquarters in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, to meet with Park. They have asked the KRC to lend more support to help them manage water resources and construct reservoirs and other agricultural infrastructure.
''We would like to make inroads into more developing countries to share our advanced know-how on farming techniques and agricultural infrastructure with them,’’ Park said. ''We have also been inviting hundreds of government officials from the developing world to offer them hands-on training programs on farming, water management and other agriculture-related matters.’’
The KRC has provided consultation services or is engaging in infrastructure development projects in 25 countries, including Bangladeshi, Tanzania, Cambodia and Kenya. It has also trained a total of 2,351 government officials and agricultural technicians from 95 nations over the years.
''We expect to cooperate with more countries in Asia, Africa and South America. This will improve Korea’s status overseas and help both the KRC and private businesses here find new opportunities beyond our borders,’’ Park said.
Additionally, the KRC has been working to help boost the nation’s food security over the years. It has extended financial and other administrative support to private firms developing farmlands abroad. From 2009 to 2011, it offered a combined 66.5 billion won to 24 companies. The KRC has set aside 30 billion won for that reason this year.
About 804 tons of wheat, soy beans and other grains were brought in by companies supported by the KRC between 2009 and 2011. But this year alone, the amount will likely reach 6,700 tons.
''Most advanced countries have relatively high food self-sufficiency levels. But we do not. With soaring international prices of wheat and other cereals, we should make all-out efforts to strengthen the nation’s food security,’’ the CEO said. ''We will continue to help create overseas farms.’’
As part of its corporate social responsibility activities, the KRC organized a joint wedding ceremony for 20 interracial couples consisting of Korean husbands and non-Korean wives at its headquarters on Oct. 31.
''Instead of holding an athletic event for our employees, we decided to spend money to hold a wedding ceremony for interracial couples who are financially unable to do so,’’ Park said. The KRC has been sponsoring dozens of interracial families in Uiwang and its surrounding cities since 2008.