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South-North Korea cooperate on farming initiative

South-North joint farming to start early next year

South and North Korea will select a few collective farms in the North for cooperation on agricultural management from early next year, a Unification Ministry official said on Sunday (Aug. 21).

South Korea will provide the North with fertilizer aid, agricultural machinery and technology to those farms as early as February or March when the farming season begins on the Korean Peninsula, Bahk Heung-yuel, coordinator for South-North dialogue at the ministry, said.

The plan is part of a seven-point agreement struck at the end of a two-day meeting in Gaeseong, North Korea, late Friday, during which officials of the two Koreas discussed measures to boost agricultural cooperation for the first time.

“The North wanted to stick to partial aid or transfer of facilities and technology from the South, saying their agricultural infrastructure has already been established,” Bahk, who participated in the talks, said. “But the South carried through on its proposal to designate specific collective farms to effectively check the outcomes of cooperation.”

Accordingly, the North agreed to grant permission to South Korean experts and engineers to visit the farms to be decided later this year.

The two Koreas will also cooperate in building a tree nursery along the western and eastern sides, as part of efforts to increase forestry resources and protect the ecological system on the peninsula, the agreement said.

In addition, the South will also support the North to develop and produce seedlings and establish an Integrated Pest Management system, according to the agreement.

Ministry officials hope the agreement will contribute to balanced agricultural development on the peninsula ahead of the reunification as well as easing of the dire food shortage in the poverty-stricken North.

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