Posted : 2013-07-14 13:55
Updated : 2013-07-14 13:55

'You will always find answers in fields'

Lee Yang-ho, administrator of the Rural Development Administration (RDA), shakes hands with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the RDA headquarters in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on May 29. In a meeting with Lee, Museveni asked the RDA to play a crucial role in developing his country's agricultural industry. / Courtesy of Rural Development Administration

By Lee Hyo-sik

"Policymakers should not sit behind the desk. They need to visit the fields as often as possible to introduce policies that are feasible and benefit the public." This is the motto of Lee Yang-ho, administrator of the Rural Development Administration (RDA).

Lee stressed that the answers always lie in the fields so government officials must visit the sites and listen to the people's voice. "When I was at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, I tried to go to the fields and listen to what farmers and fishermen have to say."

In February, he was appointed to the head of the RDA, a vice ministerial position. Prior to this, Lee served as an assistant minister for planning and coordination at the Agricultural Ministry.

He stressed that government officials, regardless of their ranks, should visit the sites as many times as they can and check whether policies work or not in reality. "If policies do not produce intended results, officials should revise them and then put them into practice."

Lee then said the RDA has various functions, adding that coordinating dozens of departments and creating synergy among them is one of his most important tasks. "It is difficult for one individual to accomplish desired outcomes. Many have to work together toward a common goal. The RDA has to work efficiently with its affiliate institutions."

Currently, the RDA operates four affiliate research institutes — the National Academy of Agricultural Science, the National Institute of Crop Science, the National Institute of Horticultural & Herbal Science and the National Institute of Animal Science.

"We also need to boost cooperation with the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation and other agriculture-related organizations, so, we can more effectively help farmers improve their livelihoods amid the widening wealth gap between urban and rural households, and the rapid population aging," the administrator said.

Lee said the RDA will make more efforts to inform farmers of the latest agricultural techniques so that they can produce more at lower costs.

He then outlined his three management principles: step ahead, look far ahead and do the best.

"I want RDA employees to take a preemptive attitude toward their jobs. Doing so will make their work much easier because they would be much more motivated and likely perform better," the administrator said.

"It usually takes years for our research to produce outcomes, so it is important for us to plan far ahead. It is obvious that the employees have to do the best at their work."

Active CSR activities

RDA has been implementing a wide array of community service activities to support those in need in rural areas.

On June 1, Lee and RDA employees, along with Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital, visited a rural village in Jinan County, North Jeolla Province, to provide residents, most of whom are over 60, with free medical services.

They also offered Jinan residents consulting services on farming techniques, and helped the residents in harvesting ginseng, grapes, red peppers and other produce.

"Our technicians fixed malfunctioning farming machines and improved the village's water and electricity facilities. We will continue to carry out community activities to help farming villages around the country in cooperation with medical institutions and other organizations," Lee said.

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