SEOUL, KOREA — With the Korean government emphasizing less rice production, output in 2018-19 is forecast to fall by 6.1%, to 3.73 million tonnes, according to a July 5 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Under the rice reduction program, the government has encouraged rice farmers to cultivate other crops in rice paddy land to relieve the burden of heavy stocks accumulated since 2013-14.

Consequently, estimated rice planting area has been revised down 6.6% to 705,000 hectares, about 50,000 hectares less than the previous year, the USDA said.

The reduced paddy lands were converted to soybeans (8,891 hectares), forage (13,576 hectares), and other various crops (10,384 hectares).

The Korean government said it will complete the draft revision of the Rice Income Compensation Act by the end of 2018, planning to implement the revised income support program from 2020 after completing public hearings next year.

The draft revision reportedly abolishes deficiency payments that have led rice farmers to overproduction.