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S. Korea in all-out effort to revive ginseng industry

All Headlines 16:25 April 05, 2016

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea announced a plan Tuesday to double the annual export of Korean ginseng, or insam, to US$300 million by 2020.

The plan is part of the government's comprehensive project aimed at promoting the struggling ginseng industry.

South Korea's white ginseng business continued to prosper until 2012, when it peaked at 1.1 trillion won ($950 million). But it has since been on a steady decline amid an economic slump and diminishing farmland.

Last year, the country's ginseng production stood at 810 billion won, with exports tallied at $150 million.

Insam has long been used in Asia as a medicine and tonic, along with Korean red ginseng, known as hongsam.

In a bid to revive the industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs operated a task force for four months from August last year.

It also held a series of meetings with farmers and manufacturers of relevant products in the first quarter of this year.

Based on the results, the ministry mapped out a set of plans to let the civilian sector play a bigger role in strengthening the industry's competitiveness and boost research and development via closer industrial connection.

The ministry also plans to improve the nation's system for the production and distribution of high-quality insam and the expansion of exports.

In particular, it will increase "mandatory funds" to 2.5 billion won this year. Introduced in 2015, the funds are financed by farmers, manufacturers, distributors and exporters to assist the growth of the insam industry. More than 1.5 billion won was raised last year.

The ministry has decided to designate "Goryo Ginseng Day" and set up an official advertising and sales pavilion for Goryo Ginseng, a Korean brand that has earned global recognition.

A nationwide ginseng festival will be held around November.

The government also plans to step up efforts to diversify export markets to the Muslim world and the European Union, in tandem with a push for lowering non-tariff barriers.

It will seek to revise the legislation about the ginseng industry and conduct more international joint studies on the efficacy of the herb.

"We have placed a focus on making up for the weak points in existing measures and drawing up new tasks," Lee Joon-won, head of the ministry's food industry policy office, said.

He added that the new strategy has reflected the voices of players in the industry striving to ride out the crisis from changes in business conditions such as a fall in consumption attributable to an economic slowdown.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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