(ATTN: ADDS gov't price stabilization plan in last 5 paras)
SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's rice output fell 3 percent this year from a year earlier due to a sharp drop in precipitation and lack of sunny days, data showed Tuesday.
The country's rice production came to 3.76 million tons this year, falling from 3.88 million tons tallied in 2021, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
It marked the sixth straight year that the country's yearly rice production stayed below 4 million tons.
The agency attributed the decline in rice output to a drop in precipitation, which fell 33.2 percent on-year during the early June-July period.
The duration of sunshine plunged 25 percent on-year over the early July-August period as well, further hindering the growth.
The decrease in the output also came as the combined size of rice paddy areas fell 0.7 percent on-year to reach 727,000 hectares, it added.
This year's output, however, is higher than the expected demand of 3.61 million tons, the agriculture ministry said, adding that it plans to swiftly "isolate" the staple grain from the market to stabilize its prices.
"We will closely monitor the market situation and take necessary measures to ensure price stability," a ministry official said.
The government earlier said it will purchase a total of 900,000 tons of rice this year to prevent a drastic fall in rice prices, including 450,000 tons of rice for its reserves.
South Korea has been struggling to cope with a glut of rice and its falling prices on the decrease in consumption in recent decades due mainly to changes in diet and eating habits.
The price of a 20-kilogram bag of rice fell 24.9 percent on-year this year to 40,725 won (US$30.74) on average, marking the largest on-year decline since 1977, according to government data.
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