SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Rice production in South Korea in the 2022-23 marketing is forecast slightly higher at 3.76 million tonnes (milled basis) while ending stocks are projected to remain unchanged at 1.45 million tonnes, still the highest level since 2016-17, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report noted that high ending stocks are driving down domestic rice prices. To manage the situation, the South Korean government increased its rice purchases to a record high of 820,000 tonnes and continues to offer acreage reduction incentives for farmers, the USDA said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is aiming to reduce planted rice acreage in 2023-24 to 690,000 hectares, down 5.1% from the current 2022-23 estimate.

“This rice acreage reduction incentive program is intended to reduce overproduction (relative to government targets) and support domestic prices,” it said.

The country’s total rice consumption is expected to fall 2.1% from the previous FAS report to 3.91 million tonnes in 2022-23.