The Republic of Korea has a population of more than 50 million people. Less than one-fourth of the republic’s area is cultivated. The decrease and aging of the rural population has caused a serious farm-labour shortage. However, more recently productivity has been improving as greater emphasis has been given to mechanization, specialization, and commercialization. Rice is a primary crop in the Republic of Korea, in addition to barley, wheat, soybeans and potatoes, but most of the country’s needs for these latter commodities must be imported.
30-54% of the food energy consumed in the Republic of Korea comes from crops that are not native to the region. Most of these plants’ diversity is found elsewhere around the planet. There are 157, 736 crop varieties in collections of crop diversity found in the Republic of Korea compared to more than 700,000 found in international collections of crop diversity supported by the Crop Trust.
The Republic of Korea signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in 2002, joining 132 other contracting parties in commitment to a global system.