|2019 Public Opinion Survey on Agriculture and Rural Areas|
The Korea Rural Economic Institute carried out its annual public survey to understand Koreans’ overall opinions on agriculture and rural communities. The survey, conducted on November 11 – 31, targeted 1,500 urban residents and 3,000 farmers. All of the urban residents and 1,521 farmers responded to the questionnaire.
The survey result shows that about half of Koreans think that agriculture has been and will be significant for the national economy (52.6% of farmers, 54.5% of urban dwellers). Also, they consider that agriculture will be more vital in the future than now.
Although city dwellers felt that agriculture is significant (78.0%), their affection toward agriculture and rural communities amounted to 38.5%, indicating that there should be various efforts to raise their affection, such as rural experience and education programs.
Questioned how valuable agriculture was as to its public function, 64.2% of urban respondents answered “highly valuable.” Also, 60.2% of them agreed on additional tax burdens to keep the value of agriculture. The result implies that it is necessary to share the significance of agriculture’s public function and enhance the value.
Regarding various functions of agriculture, 87.5% of the respondents put a priority on the stable supply of food (agricultural produce). Besides, they were aware of agriculture’s other functions, such as pastime activity (83.9%), balanced national development (81.0%), and environmental preservation (81.0%).
The interest and relevance toward rural issues have been down, and so has the intention for urban-to-rural migration after retirement. City residents have longed for rural life in search of a healthy environment and relaxed freedom. However, low income, hard labor, and inconvenient living conditions are still significant obstacles to their dreams.
Concerning the purchase of agricultural and livestock products, urban dwellers considered safety and quality (taste) more important than price. They agreed on local products’ safety and competitiveness. However, their rejection of imported products has reduced, implying that their intention to buy local products is likely to go down over time.
The overall happiness index was 6.66 for farmers and 6.33 for city residents, similar the overall score for Koreans (6.33). Breaking down the happiness score by category, factors reducing the index were financial and health state for farmers, and financial state and social life for city residents.
As to issues for agricultural products, the respondents pointed at natural disasters, such as typhoons and damages from insects, and livestock diseases from the outbreak of African swine fever. Also, questioned what would be the most vital challenge in the agricultural food sector in the coming five years, the urban respondents answered livestock disease and food safety, indicating that the production of safe food is the most significant task for Korean agriculture.
Asked what would be the most urgent task along with Korea’s relinquishment of developing country status in the World Trade Organization, urban dwellers mentioned stable supply and demand in agricultural and livestock products (37.9%) as a top priority, reflecting the opinion of consumers sensitive to prices.
Also, to a survey to understand the difference in thoughts on farming and agricultural products between Koreans and Japanese, Korean respondents pointed to improving competitiveness in agriculture as a focus area in agricultural policy, while Japanese respondents to supplying safe farming products. Regarding food safety concerns, Koreans mentioned pesticide residue, while Japanese said food poisoning. Asked what type of their traditional food they will recommend to foreigners, both Koreans and Japanese picked fermented foods.
As to the farming outcome of 2019, the response of satisfaction has been on the same level for the past three years, and worsening farming conditions and weak price competitiveness were reasons for dissatisfaction.
Overall satisfaction with farming work is improving, and the main reason for dissatisfaction is income rather than work itself. Also, the respondents answered that increased cost for production and lack of farmhands were the challenges for the farming business.
Satisfaction with rural life at present is on the rise, and the result is the same in comparison with five years ago. Besides, as to farming business and living conditions, the areas improved in comparison with five years ago were farming methods and skills, while lack of farmhands was worse than five years ago. As farmers were not happy with income and job opportunities, it is necessary to prepare a long-term solution to this problem.
Researchers: Heo Jeonghoi, Park Hyejin, Woo Byungjoon
Research period: 2019. 1. ∼ 2019. 12.
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