This page features a compilation and selection of Korean seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
K-seed production: Aug 15: Sales of varieties grown from domestically produced seeds are on the rise according to E-Mart, a leading Korean retailer. Sales of domestic onion varieties have increased by 500% in the last 3 years, and domestic cabbage increasing 400% in a similar period. However, food crops grown from imported seeds still dominate the market with 80-85% from imported Japanese seeds in the case of onions and cabbage. To help regain "seed sovereignty", the Golden Seed Project (GSP) was launched in 2013 by the government in cooperation with seed companies and the distribution industry. As a result of the project, there has been a rapid increase in sales of domestic varieties. New domestic varieties of cabbage, sweet potatoes, and paprika are also being exported to India, Russia, Mexico, Japan, and China. The development of domestic seeds is also accelerating with applications by Korean breeders for variety protection increasing by 15% between 2018 and 2020. Original story here and here
Seed law violation updates: Aug 3: In a recent audit by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Affairs of 1,204 businesses involved in the handling of seeds and seedlings, 30 businesses were found to be in violation of the Seed Industry Act. Of these, 19 businesses were prosecuted facing up to 1-year imprisonment or fines up to USD 9,000. The remaining 11 businesses were issued fines between USD 90 to USD 900. Violations included the sale of potato seed without seed guarantee, sales of fruit tree seedlings without seed registration, and the sale of seeds without declaring the production or import of varieties. Original story in Japanese here
Korea’s seed vault: Jun 1: Buried 46 meters underneath a mountain in South Korea, the Baekdudaegan National Arboretum Seed Vault Centre preserves nearly 100,000 seeds from just under 5,000 wild plant species. Mostly from the Korean peninsula although more are being added from around the world. The facility is designed to withstand both manmade and natural disasters including a 6.9 magnitude earthquake or even a nuclear explosion. The seed vault is one of only two such facilities in the world, the other being the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Seeds are kept at -20 degrees Celsius and 40% humidity. According to a report by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, wild plants may play a vital role in future medicines, fuels, and food yet 40% face the threat of extinction due to habitat destruction and climate change. Original story here
Amendment to deregulate ‘low risk LMOs’
Korean regulators will accept comments until August 15, 2021 on a draft partial amendment of the Transboundary Movement, etc. of Living Modified Organisms Act . The proposed amendments, announced in May by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and revealed through an official notification to the World Trade Organization, cover several important provisions concerning the approval process for certain gene-edited organisms and microorganisms, and which are covered in a 30-page document in Korean here.
The current Act (official English translation here) which was promulgated in 2001 and last amended in 2017, defines “living organism” as “any biological entity capable of transferring or replicating genetic material (including sterile organisms, viruses, and viroids)”, and "living modified organism" or LMO as “any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of each of the following modern biotechnology: (a) Techniques that artificially recombine genes or directly inject nucleic acids comprising a gene into cells or organelles, and (b)Techniques that are the fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family.”
According to the aforementioned WTO Notification, the main context of the amendments are as follows:
1. Through the introduction of the Preliminary Review System, low-risk LMOs in which foreign gene has not been introduced to the final product shall be exempted from risk review and approval on the import, production and contained use;
2. Under the current law, LMOs (including animals, plants, and microorganisms) that have introduced drug-resistant genes must obtain the approval when they are imported and developed. In the amendment, the scope of approval has been reduced from living organisms to living microorganisms;
3. The provision on the establishment and operation of confined filed trial areas was created and the confined field trial areas shall be separately managed from research facilities to unify the management system.
It was reported in Korean media that some civic and scientific groups had raised concerns about definitions with respect to new breeding techniques. At a public hearing held earlier this month at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jung-gu, Seoul, it was clarified that only non-transgenic gene-edited organisms would be exempted to the preliminary risk-review system as they were considered low-risk, but transgenic organisms would still be subject to the risk review process.
Poppies from ‘floating seeds’ seized: May 27: The Boryeong Coast Guard recently sized poppy plants from 20 rural villages in Boryeong (South Chungcheong Province) where locals were allegedly cultivating them for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. It was reported that the seeds may have brought in by winds. According to local regulations, charges were not pressed in cases in which cultivation did not exceed 50 weeks; nonetheless, the coast guard said that a total of 410 poppy stems would be seized and confiscated. Original news here.
New ag center with seed library opened in south Seoul: May 26: The 'Ganggamchan Urban Agricultural Center', an urban agricultural complex, which includes greenhouse complex spanning 905 square meters. Located in the Bongcheon-dongdivision, the new two-story complex was constructed between May of last year and January this year with a budget of 2.5 billion won ($2.24 million). Its features include a handicap-accessible garden, seed library, an exhibition greenhouse, experience and education rooms, plant growing machine, vertical garden and exhibition halls. The Seed Library exhibits some 250 types of seeds, including food, horticulture, and medicinal crops, inspired on the historical farming book from Geumcheon country called 'Geumyang Japrok'. A loan-exchange system is planned. Full details in Korean here.
KORES sends ‘Hope Seed Package’ to N Korean defectors: May 25: A delegation from the Korea Mineral Resources Corporation (KORES), led by its President, Hwang Gyu-yeon, delivered a ‘package of hope’ to North Korean defectors living in the southern Gangwon region. Distributed to 30 vulnerable households through the Gangwon Southern Hana Center, the ‘Hope Seed Package’ consted 240 kg of miscellaneous grains and seeds worth 3 million won ($2,700) and 60 blankets. News in Korean here.
Kenaf planting community: May 18: Community groups of the Myodo-dong division of Yeocheon city recently got together to sow kenaf seeds on 600 square meter plot of land as part of a climate action activity. Kenaf, which is adapted to the local environment, can grow rapidly, year round, and is said to be a strong carbon sequestration plant that can help reduce air pollution. See original story here.
White glutinous rice barley project: May 18: Gunsan City Agricultural Technology Center announced plans to secure 300 tons of seeds for high quality white glutinous rice barley as part of a special seed production pilot project being carried out at its Chaejongpo complex. These high-quality seeds are planned to be sown on 2,000 ha. See full details in Korean and here.
Nongwoo presents annual scholarships: May 17: Leading Korean seed company, Nongwoo Bio, led by CEO Dong-seop Park, held a scholarship conferment ceremony at Seoul National University's College of Agriculture and Life Science. For the purpose of fostering future agricultural talents, Nongwoo Bio has contributed 10 million won (US$9,000) every year since 2017 towards scholarship fund at Seoul National University, with two new graduate students selected as recipients every year. See Korean news here
Free sesame seeds hoped to spark cultivation interest: May 11 With the aim of stimulating interest amongst farmers and ordinary residents to grow sesame, Paju City announced a campaign to distribute 20 kg of high-quality seeds produced last year at the Pyeonghwa Farm, which was built around 6, Geogok-ri village of Jangdan-myeon township. Farmers are allocated 12kg of these “Ansan” sesame seeds while the general public will be allocated 8kg (50 grams per person), all free of charge. The city is hoping to spark interest in growing traditional Korean medicinal crops. See original story in Korean here.
Gyeonggi ‘native seeds’ collection and conservation: May 9: Efforts are underway in Gyeonggi Province to collect and preserve native seeds for the purpose of cultivating and marketing native crops. A private company has been selected to work with the National Seed Library Council to collect the seeds in four cities this year: Goyang, Ansan, Osan, and Icheon. The effort is part of a larger objective to identify and collect at least 100 native seeds per region for keeping at the Gyeonggi Indigenous Seed Bank, and in response to an “extinction crisis” blamed on “the aging and urbanization of rural farms in the province”. Since 2012, the province has collected 3,000 indigenous seeds through seed management centers and private organizations. Excluding the amount stored by private organizations, about 1,600 are currently being stored and multiplied by indigenous seed banks. See original story in Korean.
Korean NPPO to use ePhytos for trade with US, Sri Lanka and other countries: 14 April: A workshop concerning the development of the IPPC (International Plant Protection Commission) ePhyto Solution in the Republic of Korea was recently held. The workshop, organized by Representatives of the Korea’s National Plant Protection OrganizationKorea’s Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) -- along with the ePhyto Industry Advisory Group (IAG) and the IPPC Secretariat. APQA announced that, starting in May it intends to exchange electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) for all commodities with the US, and will gradually in the coming months extend implementation with a number of countries, with Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS) countries, including Uganda, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. Read more details on the IPPC website here.
FACT to increase summer crop seed production: April 13: The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) has announced plans to increase seed production for summer crops distributed in 2021 by 39% compared to the previous year. Specifically, there are 72 varieties in 11 target crops, including rice, beans, red beans, mung beans, perilla seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, millet, sorghum, millet, and corn for feed, with a target output of 2,146 tons. See more details in Korean here.
(FACT) KOREA SEED EXPO 2021, Announcement of Recruitment of Participating Companies - March 29 ~ April 16 : The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) is recruiting seed companies to participate in KOREA SEED EXPO 2021, which will be held at K-Seed Valley and Seed Industry Promotion Center near Gimje City from October 6 to November 2. Due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation, the Expo will be held in an online format, allowing international companies to meet with reps from Korean seed companies through interactive virtual exhibition booths. More details in Korean here, and in English via the event webpage here.
Chungbuk illegal seed survey: March 25: The National Seed Resources Chungbuk Branch has conducted a seed distribution survey for the first half of the year concerning 11 cities and counties in the Chungbuk region. With an aim of curbing the distribution of illegal seeds, seedlings, and fruit tree seedlings for the spring farming season, the seed distribution survey tracks the distribution status and channel of producers and sellers of seed potatoes, fruit tree seedlings and vegetable seeds, in addition to seed companies, nursery companies, and other entities that sell seeds and seedlings. The survey specifically looks at whether the target entities are registered, whether varieties are reported for production, import and sale, and whether the quality of seeds or seedlings is labeled. Illegal producers and sellers will be subject to fines, prosecution and other appropriate penalties. See Korean news here.
(FACT) KOREA SEED EXPO 2021, announcement of recruitment of exhibition varieties - March 15: The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) has made a call-out for the recruitment (accession) of excellent varieties to grow and display at the KOREA SEED EXPO 2021 , which will be held at the K-Seed Valley and Seed Industry Promotion Center, near Gimje city, from October 6 to Nov 2. The EXPO will be held online due to the prolonged COVID-19, and the Demonstration Field will be available through Panorama VR. More details in Korean here.
Botanical wild seeds preservation at seed vault: Feb 24: Seocheon County Agricultural Technology Center is actively trying to secure superior seeds by supporting seed germination rate tests for farmers in Seocheon County ahead of the farming season in order to increase yields and crop quality. The Seocheon County Agricultural Technology Center provides free germination rate tests for farmers in the county, with results returned within 7 days. Read original story in Korean here
Tax exemption proposed for seeds used in animal feed production: Feb 24: A proposal to exempt the VAT on the seeds for the production of animal fodder, which has been subject to taxation, is being proposed. The revised bill aims to reduce the financial burden on farmers producing feed and prevent unnecessary administrative waste by applying tax exemption to imported seeds for animal feed production. Currently, seeds of plants that are used for both food and animal feed such as rye, oats, and corn are exempt from VAT. However, seeds used only for feed, such as Italian ryegrass, are subject to tax. Although farmers are able to claim a refund on the VAT of taxed seeds, this creates an unnecessary financial burden for farmers and administrative waste for tax authorities. Read original story in Korean here
Korean listed seed companies strong performance: Feb 23: The value of two APSA Korean members who are publicly listed in Korea have seen strong stock market demand. According to a February 23 report, Nongwoo Bio’s stock value rose by 6.18% and Asia Seed grew by 4.48%. See original Korean report here.
Forest seed inspections coming: February 22: The Korea Forest Service National Forest Variety Management Center this coming spring seedling planting season, will conduct inspections at major domestic seedling markets. The aim of the inspections are to ensure compliance with requirements for production, import and distribution of forest seeds pursuant to Article 45 (1) of the Seed Industry Act. Inspections will also look into mushroom spawns (including spawn inoculation medium) and online distributors. According to Korean media, the National Forest Variety Management Center has conducted a total of 39 seed distribution investigations/investigations in 20 years and has recorded 18 cases of non-compliance, which resulted in eight warnings, two fines and eight judicial rulings. More details of inspections here, as well as here.
Dong-Oh links up with Nunhems: Feb 21: Dong Oh Seed is linking up multinational agri-chemical company, BASF’s vegetable seed arm, Nunhems to launch new products in the Korean market. The companies recently signed an agreement to jointly develop global seeds for various crops. In the mean time, Dong Oh will exclusively supply popular watermelon varieties of Nunhems. More details in Korean here.
FACT’s seed treatment center: Feb15: The Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer (FACT) seed treatment in Andong, Gyeongbuk has opened the way for seed producers to grow and sell quality seeds in a stable manner. The facility includes quality testing, screening and chemical treatment functions, as well as sorting by size, weight and color. Previously, the process to distribute new varieties to farmers might have taken five years has made it possible to cut this down to two years. More details in Korean here.
Godangok No. 1 Offers Potential for Domestic Corn: Feb 22: Goesan County signed a commercial license agreement with the Rural Development Administration for the protection of the state-owned variety of Godangok No. 1. Developed jointly by the Rural Development Administration and Goesan County, Godangok No. 1 is planned to be released commercially in 2022 after a two year trial that started in 2020. Godangok No. 1 has an appealing taste and high sugar content, and is able to compete with imported corn varieties with a competitive seed price. Original story in Korean here
Nearly one-third of cultivars found to be the same variety under a different name: February 19: DNA testing found 27% of 625 varieties, including 125 out of 399 pepper varieties tested, were actually the same cultivar. As a result 42 companies voluntarily withdrew 363 varieties. The protection of intellectual property and cracking down of infringement and illegal distributors has become an increasingly urgent issue in the seed industry. With millions of dollars spent on R&D, the current low penalties are not enough of a deterrent, according to a seed company official. Original story in Koren here and here.
Nurturing specialists in the seed industry: Feb 17: The National Seed Resources plans to expand the number of its courses for professionals in the seed industry. The courses will target seed industry workers and public officials as well as high school and university students with courses related to breeding technology, seeding technology, seed marketing, and seed quality testing. They will also hold training courses aimed at developing countries in Asia in order to cultivate future human resources for the next generation of professionals in the seed industry. The curriculum for 2021 will be announced on the National Seed Resources website (https://www.seed.go.kr). Original story in Korean here
Private companies to support native soybean research and conservation: Feb 17: Professor Gyuhwa Chung of Chonnam National University stated in a recent interview that a number of domestic and regional soybean companies have offered to support his research and conservation efforts. With a collection of 7,000 wild and native soybean seeds from remote islands and mountain regions, one of the most vital facilities for Prof. Chung's research is the soybean seed storage facility. Optimal temperature for storage of soybean seeds is about 4 degrees at 30% humidity. However, recent technical issues at the current storage facility have resulted in high temperatures and humidity. The injection of funds will create a new storage facility as well as increase the planting capacity from 300 to 1,000-1500 soybean seeds each year. Original story in Korean here
Gaui-do Island garlic seeds draw praise for quality: Feb16: Gaui-do Island in Taean County of South Chungcheongnam Provice is attracting a lot of attention for its garlic seeds. Gaui-do cultivates about 10,000 seeds of garlic every year in an area of 43,000 square meters but supply is insufficient to meet demand. The island has an ideal climate and high levels of phosphoric acid (P2O2), calcium, and potassium components in the soil, which are very important for cultivation of garlic seedlings. Taean County plans to expand the production of high-quality garlic by increasing production of garlic seeds from Gaui-do. In 2020, 4,726 farms in Taean County produced 11,752 tons of garlic in an area of 911 hectares, generating 49 million USD. Original story in Korean here
176 tonnes of govt rice seeds to be supplied: Feb16: Haman County in South Gyeongsang Province will supply 176 tons of rice seed to improve the quality of rice in the area. Government-supplied rice seeds have been tested for quality, have higher germination rates, and are more resistant to disease than self-cultivated seeds. Original article in Korean here
Pepper seeds in Eumseong: Feb 16: Eumseong County Agricultural Technology Center announced that it will start sowing pepper seeds from the 16th to the 27th of February in order to supply the pepper seedlings that were applied for in December last year. A total of 750,000 stocks of 5 varieties will be planted, a 17% increase compared to the previous year. The seedlings will be supplied to over 960 local farmers from mid-April. Original article in Korean here
Apply for bean seeds announcement: Feb 4: The National Seed Resources in South Chungcheong Province will receive applications for 120 tons of government-supplied soybean and red bean varieties until March 19th. Seeds will be supplied to farmers through local agricultural cooperatives from April 1st to May 10th. Original article in Korean here
Seoul Botanical Gardens donates seeds to Global Seed Vault: Feb 4: The Seoul Botanical Garden, which opened in 2019, announced that it will donate some 500 plant seeds of rater and endangered species owned to the Global Seed Vault of the Baekdudaegan National Arboretum. The Baekdudaegan Global Seed Vault was established in 2015 to preserve plant genetic resources for future generations and be able to withstand natural disasters and even nuclear explosions. Baekdudaegan is the world's first permanent storage facility for wild plant seeds. Read original article in Korean here
Rural Development Administration distributes seeds of 33 medicinal varieties: Jan 24: A department of the Rural Development Administration announced that this year, 33 medicinal crop seeds will be distributed through the Agricultural Technology Institutes of each province. Supplied seeds include turmeric, sikbangpung, guritdae, deodeok, bellflower, donggulle, hemp, maekmundong, banha, and baechohyang. Read original article in Korean here
New seed education center to provide practical industry training: January 2021:
A new International Seed Life Education Center has been established to cultivate seed industry experts in the seed industry. Thus far, practical training has been provided for 653 people through 20 courses, and will be expanded to an additional 1,096 students. The education center curriculum is mainly aimed at workers in the seed industry and rearing business, high school students and college students related to agricultural life, and public officials related to seeds. Curriculum covers processing, seed testing, seed export, fruit tree seedling production, experimental equipment utilization, and future generation expert courses. The Education Center’s courses fo 2021 will be announced on its website by the end of January. Read more in Korean here.
Advancing seed sample image analysis technology: January 2021:
A new seed resource development program that utilizes the latest in image analysis technology being utilized the Gimcheon National Seed Resources, Gyeongbuk showing promise to significantly reduce the time needed to analyze seed sample characteristics. Typically, the process of collecting, examining, arranging, categorizing and logging 10 samples took researchers an average of 376 minutes per cultivar. Now, thanks to the improved, Seed Resources program utilizing the latest in image analysis technology -- in collaboration with the Korea Institute of Electronics Engineers -- this can be reduced by 30-50%. Read full details in Korean language here.
Native seeds of Hongcheon for Women: January 2021:
The National Federation of Women Farmers' Association, Gangwon Province has published the Indigenous Seeds of Hongcheon' book, which documents native seeds and traditions collected from various places in Hongcheon since 2018. The book uses local words to preserve the characteristics of the Hongcheon area, and records the method of farming native seeds in a way that Hongcheon female farmers plant. More in Korean here.
FACT Korea to distribute 2021 crop seeds: January 2021:
The Eumseong-gun Agricultural Technology Center has announced that it will receive applications (to acquire) 2020 field crop seeds, including 26 cultivars of nine crop species, which will be distributed through the Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Transfer, Korea. Crops include soybeans, white beans,, black soybeans, red beans, Cho, Susu, Gijang, sesame, perilla and peanut. Farmers wishing to apply have until February 5. More details in Korean here.
Yangpyeong County promotes native seeds: January 2021:
The head of Yangpyeong-gun in Gyeonggi Province is promoting the preservation and use of native seeds as “essential for the health of the people." Since 2018, the first year of his inauguration, Gunsu Jung has been working with the private sector and the Rural Development Administration to engage farmers all over Yangpyeong, and collect seeds of dozens of species, including rice, potatoes, wheat, and others. Read more in Korean here.
Gonju willow rice farmer has seed stories: January 2021:
Hwang Jin-woong, a farmer in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, is a native seed conservitive who has been recording the stories contained in the seeds. From his efforts a type of “Willow rice” native to Gongju, was registered as a World Food Cultural Heritage in 2019. The farmer Hwang has been farming for 9 years in Bongmyeong-ri, Gyeryong-myeon, Gongju. Willow rice is the oldest cultivar of native rice remaining on the Korean Peninsula. It has been cultivated in parts of Chungcheong-do, such as Gongju, Dangjin, and Okcheon since the Neolithic period. In addition to cultivating native crops, he is also working on discovering, collecting, and promoting native seeds, having discovered 51 kinds of native seeds in Gongju this past year. Story in Korean here.
Asia Seed reveals new Corporate Identity logo: December 2020:
APSA member, Asia Seed recently held a contest to design its new logo, and replace its old one, which had been in use for over 20 years. According to this report, more than 221 entries were received through the contest held in November. Employees voted on six nominations, and finally one was selected. An official from Asia Seed was quoted as saying [translation], “The new Corporate Identity inherits the history and tradition of the existing logo, and at the same time embodies the tradition of Korean seeds and the will to innovate for the future.”
Industrial, medical hemp Special Zone interview: December 2020:
Details about Korea’s promising 'Gyeongbuk Industrial Hemp Regulatory Free Zone', were highlighted in an interview with Andong Vice Mayor, Park Seong-soo, who played a decisive role in its establishment and approval. According to the vice-mayor’s projections, the project, which drew investment capital of 45 billion won, would yield “production induction effect of 63.5 billion won, a value-added effect of 25.4 billion won, and an employment inducement effect of 2,719 people."
Disease-resistant varieties address labor-shortages, farmer needs: December 2020:
This comprehensive article in Korean highlights a number of challenges the Korean agriculture sector has been facing, as well as listing several promising new, disease-resistant varieties of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes that have been developed and launched by Korean companies, including APSA member, Nongwoo Bio, to help farmers cope with challenges of increased pest and disease and reduced labor.
High Quality rice seeds secured for 2021 planting: December 2020:
Quality rice seed for 2021 planting has been secured for farmers. The National Seed Resources announced that a total of 15,063 tonnes of 29 varieties would be planted in early 2021. This includes 14,023 tons of 26 varieties of rice paddy, and 1,040 tons of 3 varieties of sticky rice. According to a report, the breakdown of seed supply by province is as follows: 851 tons of 8 varieties for Gangwon; 753 tons of 8 varieties for Chungbuk; 3,050 tons of 8 varieties for Chungnam; 2,256 tons of 8 varieties for Jeonbuk; 2,568 tons of 11 varieties for Jeonnam; 2,377 tons of 6 varieties for Gyeongbuk; 1,572 tons of 15 varieties for Gyeonggi Province and 1,636 tons of 9 varieties in Gyeonggi Province. In related news, in Taean county (Taean-gun) in the province of South Chungcheong Province (Chungcheongnam-do), officials said they have secured seed supply that will be distributed through an Agricultural Technology Center 'seed bank'. The seeds include 119 tons of eight varieties. More details in Korean here. Also , officials in Gokseong County (Gokseong-gun) in South Jeolla Province, there was a meeting on 10 December to discuss supplies of high-quality rice seeds for cultivation in 2021. The county has reportedly procured seeds of high-purity and distributed them to leading farmers to produce seeds, with the amount of rice produced this year cited to be about 30 tons. Also, in a video news report here, it was revealed that of the rice varieties grown in the Chungbuk region, 25% are still foreign varieties imported from Japan. However, by 2023, most of the rice varieties grown in the Chungbuk region will be converted to domestic varieties.
Yangpyeong govt links up with local farm for native rice seed expansion: December 2020: Yangpyeong-gun, a county in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea has signed a business agreement with Woobo Farm Co., Ltd. (CEO Lee Geun-i) for the expansion of native rice seeds. According to this Korean media report, the agreement “is part of the creation of a Yangpyeong-gun native resource cluster to foster and disseminate disappearing native resources and develop them into future industries. Specialization with Ubo Farm, an agricultural company that has preserved and supplied native rice seeds in the private sector for over 20 years. It was promoted for technology sharing and joint testing and research projects.” The signatories agreed to cooperate in joint test research and sharing of expertise for the conservation and distribution of native rice genetic resources, donation of native rice seeds and cooperation in operation of rapeseeds, as well as in events, publicity, and education for the use of native rice.
Preserving native Korean seeds at Svalbard Vault and at home:
December 2020: An article in Korean language highlights efforts to preserve native Korean seeds through deposits of tens of thousands of samples at the so called ‘doomsday vault’ in Svalbard, Norway, as well as at Korean seed banks, where many tens of thousands of seed and plant resources of both domestic and wild cultivars are being safe kept. In related news, the the Rural Development Administration revealed statistics that underline Korea as owning the 5th largest collection of genetic resources (behind US, China, Japan and India), which by July 1, had amounted to more than 328,290 registrations (translation), including 263,960 vegetables.
Investigation of illegal seed potato suppliers: AUGUST 2020:
An investigation to prevent the distribution of non-compliant potato seeds and seedlings (seedlings) was carried out in Iksan, Wanju, Gunsan, Gimje, Buan, Jeonbuk, and Nonsan, Buyeo, and Seocheon in Chungnam. According to this article, as well as this article, under the Seed Industry Act, seed potatoes must be registered as a seed business and sold under a seed guarantee, so it is illegal to sell unguaranteed seed potatoes or sell edible potatoes as seeds. A person who does not register a seed business, sells a variety without reporting on the production or import sale, or sells or distributes unguaranteed seed potatoes is subject to imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine of not more than 10 million won.
Bolstering NK potato production with superior seeds: December 2020:
North Korean authorities are switching out older generation researchers for new ones to push forward the country’s “seed revolution,” Daily NK news source reports that in order to address food security, the country is bolstering domestic production of grains, and has since 2018, been highlighting the need for a “seed revolution” among the country’s potato farmers. According to the report, “Seeds that have been deemed superior in quality are being supplied to farms after having gone through two or three years of test cultivation. Read original article here.
Crack down on illegal and low-quality seeds
Authorities have announced plans to probe the distribution and selling of illegal and sub-quality seeds ahead of the peak season of seed distribution. Investigations, which will cover the Busan, Ulsan, and Gyeongnam regions, will focus on vegetable seeds (cabbage, radish, green onion, green onion) as well as seedlings, spices (garlic, ginger) and are planned to be carried out through November 30. It will center on seeds, seedling companies and vendors that produce, import and sell seeds, including through online retail channels, such as blogs and e-shops, examining compliance with registration, reporting, labeling and testing requirements in accordance with the seed industry laws and regulations. More details in Korean here. In related news on August 4 here, the Korea Seed and Variety Service (KSVS) in Chungnam province will conduct a seed distribution survey to monitor the distribution of illegal or counterfeit seeds and seedlings in the city Asan and other jurisdictions during the coming peak season for seed and seedling distribution. As announced here, the survey will cover compliance with rules for registration, production, import and sales of varieties, including labelling.
Amendment to Korea Seed Industry Act to Strengthen Quality Control for Fruit Varieties
July 30: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has initiated the legislative process to amend Korea’s Seed Industry Act. The period for gathering public comments on the new amendments will last 40 days, from July 31 to September 9. Amendments cover system improvements included in measures to develop the fruit tree seedling industry, as initiated in July last year. The main contents of the amendment are as follows.
First, in response to consumer demand for high-quality seeds, a quality certification system will be introduced, emphasizing quality control systems and traceability. In order to professionally and more efficiently detect pest and viral infections of seeds and seedlings, the scope of testing, which had been overseen by Korea Forest Service and the Korea Seed & Variety Service (KSVS), will be extended to a dedicated seed testing agency designated by the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Systems will be implemented to track seed production and the management of seed companies that have received quality certification, extending to the distribution status of certified seeds and seedlings.
Secondly, in order to systematically manage the production and distribution situation of foreign varieties introduced into Korea, seed importers will be required to report detailed information about the imported varieties during the customs clearance process. Specific reporting requirements will be determined and announced by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs.
Third will be a requirement for seed (quality control/assurance) managers to undergo regular professional training through a designated human resources and training institution. The requirement will mandate that any person who fails to meet quality assurance requirements stipulated for the seeds or seedlings will be subject to taking mandatory education course(s) on the seed system, which will vary depending on the severity and number of violations.
Finally, stricter penalties will be imposed on seed or seedling businesses (personnel) who violate requirements for reporting and displaying correct information regarding the distribution of seeds and seedlings. False reporting, or fake (or counterfeit) labeling of quality, for example, may result in the suspension of operations, while violations such as unregistered workers carry imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 20 million won.
False reporting or fake (or counterfeit) labeling of quality, for example, may result in the suspension of operations, while violations for unregistered workers may carry a fine of up to 20 million won (US$16,870) and/or imprisonment of up to two years.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture expects to complete the legislative process within the year, which could see the amendments ratified by next year.
For more information, contact the KSVS via their website, and see the following links for Korean news:
KSVS accepting applications for cereal seed distribution
July 30: The Korea Seed and Variety Service (KSVS) Jeonbuk support unit is accepting applications for the distribution of cereal seeds. Applications can be made through Jeonbuk Regional Agricultural Technology Center locations in towns, townships and neighborhoods ( Eup, Myeon and Dong) until August 27, 2020. There is a quota of many hundreds of tons of seeds, including several varieties of wheat and different types of barley and rye. KSVS is also offering seed cleaning and processing services in August. The seeds should be available for distribution to farmers through local agricultural cooperatives from September 11 to October 12. News in Korean here. In related news, this August 4 article highlights some doubts and potential shortfalls in wheat seed supply targets, concerning the government’s recently announced plans to increase self-sufficiency.
Korea’s ‘largest coffee plantation’
Aug 2: Although there are no definite statistics for Korea’s coffee industry there are about 50 to 60 active coffee plantations in Korea. According to this article, most of them are experimental farms, operating on a small scale. However, there is one commercial-scale coffee plantation in Hwasun-gun, Jeonnam worth noting. With a total area of 5500 pyeong (about 1.8 hectare), the Dubay Coffee Farm is said to be the largest in Korea. The Arabica coffee grown here is native to the African highlands of Ethiopia. To ensure the coffee can thrive, the owner of the plantation has implemented an innovative mist cooling system that is more economical than air-conditioning. There are currently 22,000 coffee plants grown here.
Seeds produced at military complex inspected for quality
July 22: Hongcheon Country, together with the National Institute of Natural Resources Gangwon and the Corn Research Center of the Provincial Agricultural Research Institute conducted inspections of seed packages for signs of mold and pests as part of quality control measures. As reported here, the seeds were produced with backing from the military at a 211-hectare complex, and include seven varieties of 4 crops: rice, soybeans, red beans, and corn. More than 900 tonnes of high-quality seeds are expected to be produced and distributed to local farmers.
31 soybean varieties at Paju Festival demonstration
July 23: Some 31 varieties of soybean were exhibited and demonstrated as part of a smart farm demonstration as part of the Paju Jangdan Soybean Festival, held at Papyeong-myeon in Paju City. News here.
Increasing corn seed production in Gangwon
Aug4: The planned production of corn seeds at complexes in Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, was slated to be about 187 tons, which would help bolster farm household income. The production of seed in the complex includes contributions from the Corn Research Institute of Gangwon-do Agricultural Research Center and the Foundation of Agricultural Technology Commercialization (FACT) with the seed corn complexes located in Jucheon-myeon, Mureungdo-myeon and Korean Peninsula. More details here.
Forest Seed Collection Update
The National Forest Variety Management Center of the Korea Forest Service announced that it will commence its annual seed collection activities starting from the end of August. This year's seed harvesting started about a week later than the previous year due to a prolonged rainy season, and it is expected to be finish around early December. According to the results of the National Forest Variety Management Center's predicted production of seeds from natural sources, the total production of forest seeds this year is estimated to be around 6-7 tons. More details in Korean here.
N Korea leader visits farms to mitigate typhoon losses
Typhoon Bavi has caused only minimal damage to North Korea, according to this article, citing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The typhoon made landfall in the Korean peninsula on August 27. Mr Kim visited South Hwanghae province, southwest of Pyongyang as part of efforts to mitigate potential crop damage and casualties from the typhoon.
JUNE AND JULY 2020
Seed library, seed display and IoT hydroponic at Yangcheon park
The Yangcheon Urban Agricultural Park, operated by the Yangcheon district in Cheoul, has installed a seed display box and is establishing a seed library. The seed display box was installed in the internal education center to allow visitors to see 200 seeds that were donated from the Rural Development Administration and the Seoul Agricultural Technology Center.In addition, the city is running a seed library that lends out seeds and urban agriculture related books to residents. Residents can then later return new seeds they collected from the seeds in order to maintain and grow the collection and thus “restore genetic diversity of plants, as well as to introduce a variety of plant species through continuous seed supply and simply regain healthy food.” Smart technology is also incorporated into urban agriculture at the park, which features indoor plant hydroponic cultivation integrated with IoT (Internet of Things) in the classroom portion of the Education Center. More details in Korean here.
Baekdudaegan Native Seed Exhibition
The Baekdu-daegan Native Seeds Exhibition was held at the Gangwon-do Forest Museum from July 10 to 26, organized by the Gangwon-do Forest Research Institute. The exhibition promoted the preservation of seeds in Korea, with works contributed by the National Baekdu Daegan Arboretum. On display were images and samples of seeds and pollen of plants native to Baekdu-daegan, photographed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) . News here.
Korea’s Gangwon seed potato, technology secured for Central Asia
Kangwon Provincial Agricultural Technology Institute (CEO Choi Jong-tae) signed a win-win cooperation agreement with Hongik Bio Co., Ltd. (representative Seo Sang-gi) to advance to Central Asia on June 30. The agreement was prepared to secure the supply of Gangwon seed potato and to exchange technology and information in Central Asia countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Kangwon Provincial Agricultural Research Service and Hongik Bio Co., Ltd. agreed to cooperate with each other to promote a successful market settlement by revitalizing technical and human exchanges to supply seeds and export stable seeds for the export of Gangwon potatoes to Central Asia. The five-year-old potato was awarded ‘best’ at the Korean Potatoes Fair held by the National Species Resource in 2018, and local trials were successful. News in Korean here.
School students plant ‘native seeds’ in North Jeolla
Gochang Seongnae Elementary School in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do was selected as a resident proposal project for the 2020 school year for a project to plant ‘Korean native seeds’ around school gardens and fences to promote Korean biodiversity and ecological awareness in the community. Students planted various types of plants, including red and black maize varieties, and red beans. Korean news here.
Nonghyup Bank and Korean Women Farmers unite in seed harvest
Employees of the Nonghyup Bank, Ulleung County Branch joined members of the Korean Women’s Farmers Federation of Ulleung Federation recently took part in garlic seed harvesting activity in the Nari Village, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun. A representative of the NH Nonghyup Ulleung-gun Branch said, “I hope that it will be a chance to share the difficulties of the rural areas by helping farmers who have insufficient hands, ease the concerns of farmers, and appreciate the importance of agriculture, thanks to farmers, and rural communities. “We will continue to work with the farmers to help the farmers who can actually help the farmers.” News here.
Citbank CSR promotes reforestation
Citibank Korea recently celebrated its 15 years anniversary and conducted a CSR activity that rallied community members, employees and customers to germinate acorn seeds for replanting in local forests. News here.
Summer quality warnings for watermelon growers.
The Jeonbuk Agricultural Research Institute has warned farmers growing watermelon to take special care and attention to their crops citing potential quality issues linked to the rainy season and summer heat wave. According to the National Institute of Agriculture, on the same day, watermelon covered with dark purple color around the seeds, emits an unpleasant odor, and when the cell is softly changed, tapping the watermelon makes a ‘plump’ sound. Production is concentrated around mid- to late July in Gochang, Buan, and Jinan, the representative regions of Noji watermelon in the province.It was advised to cover fruits and vegetables to reduce overheating or to install a shading net (35%) at the facility house and harvest in a timely manner before damage occurs. News in Korean here.
Migrant farm workers in shortage, high demand
This feature story carried by the LA Times highlights the interesting story of Thai migrant workers toiling in a tobacco field for an 11-hour summer day of work.
Nongwoo Bio CEO Q&A
The CEO of leading Korean seed company, Nongwoo Bio, Lee Byeonggak was featured in a Korean language interview published by the Maekyung Media Group. In the Q&A, he answers questions about his company, R&D, strategy, goals, as well as the situation with Korean and international seed business, including insights on Covid-19 and North Korea situation.
RDA lettuce breeding development
The Rural Development Administration (RDA) has revealed progress and approaches with R&D for domestic lettuce varieties. An article by Korean language Amnews highlights various types of varieties in focus, covering targeted trait categories and parameters, including shelf-life, leaf-weight, nutrient-content, color, flower and vegetative periods.
Year-round barley microgreen sprout production
The Jeheon-si Agricultural Technology Center, in North Chungcheong Province, is reporting success with trials for barley microgreens. As reported in Korean language news, the microgreens were sprouted in new 396㎡ facility, which was designed for year-round production. Microgreens, which have a short seed to harvest cycle of between seven to ten days are a rich source of nutrients.
Fruit tree seedling plant disease prevention, surveillance measures
Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has issued a management plan aiming to bolster prevention of inspection of epidemiological plant diseases at fruit tree seedling production sites. Proposed is to conduct joint inspections with local government agencies up to four times a year, as reported in Korean here.
Cereal seeds production stable in Gyeongnam
Inspections of cereal seed production sites have been carried out by the Gyeongnam Provincial Agricultural Research Service Administration announced. The inspections, carried out on 13ha of wheat seed production fields, focus on plant and grain health, especially the prevalence of pests and diseases. According to the Korean article, this year there are trargets to produce 18,630kg of wheat seeds; 15,400kg of large grained barley as well as thousands of kg of other types of barley and cereals.
New oat, barley varieties for feed crops
The Gyeongju-si Agricultural Technology Center will distribute seeds of new, locally developed, feed-purposed oat and and green barley. The varieties were bred by the Rural Development Administration and the National Institute of Food Science and Technology to promote resilience and self-sufficiency of domestic agriculture, reports Dakyung News.
Sweet potato variety improvement trials in Jeonbuk
The Jeonbuk Provincial Agricultural Research Institute has teamed up with the Rural Development Administration in Jinan County of North Jeolla or Jeonbuk Province to improve varieties and produce high-quality seeds of domestically grown sweet potatoes. Focusing on taste and yields, trials had been carried out between March to early May, focusing on several promising varieties. Finally, one particular variety shows the most promise, due to its apparent to certain pests, productivity and suitability for early cultivation, reports cm.asiae.
RDA issues soya seed sowing season guidelines
The Rural Development Administration (RDA) has issued a number of guidelines to Korean cultivators of soybean in anticipation for the Korean soya seed sowing season, which is during the month of June. The guidelines, published here in Korean, cover everything from variety selection to identifying and preparing healthy, pest- and disease-free seeds, weather and location consideration in order to ensure optimal yields.
Online course for seedling, nursery workers
The Plant Breeding Research Institute of Wonkwang University recently successfully conducted an online lecture to provide practical curriculum on raising seedlings. The two-day virtual training session was organized in response to Covid19 isolation measures, and was attended by a total of 124 students who registered to attend, including national nursery workers and trainees. The curriculum consisted of eight units covering seedling growth, grafting technology, physiological abnormalities, fertilization and pest prevention, and advanced environmental control technology. Participants were issued a completion certificate. More details here.
Genetic resources to bolster domestic wheat self-sufficiency
The Rural Development Administration (RDA) through the Agricultural Genetic Resource Center is continuing to evaluate wheat genetic resources to identify high potential breeding material that could be used to develop new domestic wheat varieties as part of efforts to improve self-sufficiency of staple grains. According to figures cited in the report, the self-sufficiency rate for wheat in Korea in 2018 was only 1.2%, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has an objective to improve this to about 10% by 2022. To meet the target, the some 2,500 resources from 80 countries have been collected and preserved, including wild and domesticated species. More details here.
Tissue culture mass sapling propagation of larch trees
The National Forest Breeding Management Center, in cooperation with the National Forest Science Institute will mass-produce larch saplings from tissue culture seedlet samples, which will be distributed through the national nursery office. Larch is a coniferous tree of the genus Larix, and is an important symbolic species of Korea that grows fast and thus preferred as an excellent source of lumbe; however, its seeding cycles are not stable, and fruiting is also reported to be irregular. The center plans to produce and supply a total of 30,000 tissue culture seedlings by the end of August, with more seedlets to be supplied to state-owned nursery businesses and planted in national forests through to 2022. More details all Joongdo in Korean here.
Corn, sorghum sowing update in Jeonnam
The president of the Jeonnam Provincial Agricultural Research Service has sought to commence planting of key summer crops such as corn and sorghum. As reported by Wikitree Korea news, the most suitable time for planting corn is in early and mid-April, and delays in sowing risk a shortened growing season, which would ultimately have adverse affects on yields. In addition, sorghum requires a higher temperature compared with corn, so it is suitable for planting of the crop inJeonnam to commence in mid-April to early May.
Evidence of 1,600 year old seed trade
The National Gyeongju Cultural Heritage Research Institute (translation) is analyzing milenea-old artifacts unearthed from excavations of the Wolseong Moat in Gyeongju carried out between 2016 and 2019. Among them are what is believed to be dozens of seed specimens dated to the 5th century. Among them are castor seeds, which measure about 9 mm long by 7 mm wide. Castor is not native to the Korean Peninsula, but is known for its origins in Asia and Africa, including India. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the seeds were imported.
Seoul City community garden sown
A community garden project in Seoul has allocated 6,940 sections in 15 farms, mostly around ‘paldang’ lake, as well as in Goyang City and Gwangmyeong City. The sections were designated to urban gardeners between February 3 and March 20, and gardeners on April 11 came to plant vegetable seeds and seedlings in their respective sections. See more info in Korean here.
Urban garden seeds delivered via drive-by
To minimize risk associated with face-to-face interactions, chicory and lettuce seeds were distributed to urban garden farmers via a drive-by distribution system. The distribution of seeds, carried out in early April, is part of an urban garden project in Uijeongbu city of Gyeonggi Province. More details here and here.
Gyeonggi seed bank update
Nongmin.com in Korean language provides an update on the “Native Seed Bank” opened last November in Donggori, Godeok-myeon, Pyeongtaek-si of Gyeonggi Province. Quoting an interview with the bank’s director, the article notes that there are some 800 native seed specimens are being conserved after being collected from various areas in the province. The seed bank is equipped with a seed storage room spanning 140㎡ with cold storage controlled as low as minus 20 ℃.
Chungnam Cooperative supplying farmers with subsidized pepper seedlings
A cooperative in Chungnam Province is facilitating the increasing incomes of pepper growers through the supply of pepper seedlings, with cultivation and harvesting information and guidance support. The Cooperative is reportedly raising 150,000 pepper seedlings at its nursery this year, which it sells to farmers at a rate of 150 won per seedling, which is cheaper than the market price of between 250 to 300 won). Its supply has increased from 50,000 seedlings in 2018 to 75,000 in 2019, and now double this year.
Americans, Korean sow seeds on urban gardening day
To mark Urban Agriculture Day on April 11, a tradition which has been observed in Korea since 2015, the the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, joined with reps from the US Embassy to promote the joy of urban farming by making food and sharing food with agricultural products harvested from seeding by 40 Korean and American elementary school students. More details in Korean here.
Individual rice seed germination training
The Hongcheon-gun Agricultural Technology Center replaced the rice seed germination annual meeting with individual training for 30 farmers in the hall from the 12th to the 13th for the stable farming practice. In order to prevent the spread of corona19, the rice seed germination festival was conducted as individual training, not as a collective training.
Spring flowers bloom bring up mood as rapeseed harvest nears
Gyeyang-gu, Incheon, is in full bloom of oilseed rape in a large-scale lush complex that is 10 times the size of a soccer stadium in 106-1 Seoseo-dong. Rapeseed seeds were sown and managed in October of last year, and in April, it is expected to see the yellow color of rapeseed.
Korea seedsman interview on Covid resilience through seeds, news here
Seed more valuable than gold
Comprehensive review of Korea seed industry and quantitatively how/which seed is more valuable in weight than gold, including genetic resources, institutions, link here
Intensive Investigations on illegal seeds
Gyeonggi-do Special Police Corp. will conduct intensive investigations on domestic seed producers and importers, looking into the illegal distribution of seeds through seedlings and vegetable seeds sold via online shopping malls and blogs, as well as the sale of seeds that have passed their expiration date.. News in Korean language here.
PEACH WORM WARMING INFESTATION STORY IN KOREN HERE
KOSA gets new President, Board at 55th GAM
The Korean Seed Association on 30 January held its 55th General Assembly Meeting, in which a new president, 12 Board of Directors and two Advisors were elected. The new president is Jae-Bong Im, who is a member of the Standing Committee for Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries, the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. The 12 Board of Directors members and two Advisors are as follows:
KOSA’s new president: IM, Jae-Bong
Board of Directors
Company name | Representative Name
1 Areum Co., Ltd. Han, Seung Jin
2 Asia Seed Co.Ltd. Ryu, Kyung Oh
3 Farm Hannong Co., Ltd. Lee, You Jin
4 Korea Mikado Kyowa Seed Co. Ltd. Joo, Yong
5 Koregon Co., Ltd. Yang, Dong Hyun
6 NongHyup Seed Yoo, Chun Hoi
7 Nongwoo Bio Co., Ltd. Lee, byung kak
8 Pan Pacific Seed Park, Sang Gyeon
9 Sakata Korea Co., Ltd. Byun, Sang Ji
10 Samsung Seed Co., Ltd. Lee, Sung Yong
11 Taewoo Seed Co., Ltd. Cho, Hang Jin
12 The Kiban Choi, Gau seoul
Company name | Representative Name
1 Good Seed Co., Ltd. An, Young Sik
2 Sun Seed Co., Ltd. Lee, Ju Sung
DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020
Seed ‘more precious than gold’
According to an article on Farm Insight Dot Net in Korean language to promote seed industry promotion initiatives, Korea has paid 140 billion won a year, totaling 14 billion won for crop seed royalties in the decade starting 2009 and ending 2018. The article cites examples of how a single seed can increase many hundreds of times in value along the integrated product chain, and outlines key industry projects and initiatives to bolster the Korean seed industry, such as the Golden Seed Project. Elaborating on the efforts of the project and similar initiatives to improve Korean seed varieties, researcher Byung-Ho Hwang provides insight on another recently published article.
Taking molecular breeding to the next level
The Seoul National University Plant Molecular Breeding Division has developed a variety of projects aimed at laying the foundation for national source technology, commercializing biotechnology, building infrastructure, and supporting projects. Many of these projects, with a focus on varietal development and improvement of food crops such as vegetables and rice, are outlined in this recent Korean News Media article