President Lee Myung-bak called for South Korea to develop agriculture into a high value-added export industry Tuesday, pointing to the country's populous neighbors of China and Japan and rising demand for quality agricultural products.
"Now, it is time for our agriculture to grow as an export industry," Lee said during a farmers' convention held at Seoul World Cup Stadium. "In nearby Asian markets such as China and Japan, there are 500 million people with a per capita annual income of more than US$15,000. With incomes in an emerging economy such as China rising fast, demand for safe, quality agricultural products is rising."
Lee also said that the global market for agricultural products is valued at $5.8 trillion, which is larger than the combined values of the information technology and auto industries.
"The Netherlands developed agriculture into a high-tech export industry, though it has a smaller landmass than us, expensive labor and unfavorable weather conditions," Lee said. "There is no reason that we cannot do so as well. There is no reason our agriculture should not become a high value-added, high-tech industry."