The South Korean government-run Rural Research Institute (RRI) has released plans to explore inter-Korean agricultural cooperation projects.
The institute is seeking subcontractors to explore the effect that agricultural infrastructure development in the North may have on inter-Korean economic development, the website of South Korea’s Public Procurement Service (PPS) reads.
“The agriculture, which is a non-political field, should be priming water for promoting inter-Korean exchanges and the institutionalization of inter-Korean relations,” the RRI reported in a proposal released last Friday, saying Seoul could “promote inter-Korean dialogue while prioritizing the South-North agricultural cooperation.”
The department of Unification Agricultural Research at the RRI plans to use the project to promote public support for inter-Korean exchanges.
“In order to resume the South-North agricultural cooperation project, it is necessary to create public opinion favorable to the necessity of the project,” it said, in a proposal not revealed to media but available online.
“It is needed to endeavor to share awareness on the necessity of exchange and cooperation under the current sanctions to North Korea.”
The objective of the project, the proposal reads, is to “proactively” develop South Korea’s plans for a “new economic map” of the Korean peninsula proposed by the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee of the Moon Jae-in administration in July last year.
Three economic belts have been proposed to connect the two Koreas economically: an energy-resource belt on the East Sea coast, an industry-logistics and distribution-transportation belt in the West Sea coast, and an environment-tourism belt at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
The RRI, which is run by the Korea Rural Community Corporation (KRC), is asking subcontractors to suggest cooperation models and work on strategies to implement inter-Korean agricultural cooperation projects.
Out of three belts, the project will focus primarily on two areas: the belt along the east coast of the peninsula which connects Mount Kumgang to the Wonson – Tanchon and Chongjin – Rason regions, and the belt in the West Sea linking Kaesong, Pyongyang, Nampo region, and Sinuiju city.
The institute will look into the status and characteristics of the DPRK economy, and the implications of reforming North Korea’s agricultural policy.
Potential subcontractors are asked to suggest “ways for trade and cooperation in the field of agriculture and forestry as well as stock breeding when agricultural productivity improves after building the infrastructure.”
The institute is also proposing surveying 30 North Korean defectors who recently fled to the South and are familiar with the current situation of infrastructure in the DPRK’s major agricultural belts.
The bidder — which will be selected on March 14 — will work on a four month deadline. The institute will provide KRW 35 million (USD $32,664).
The two Koreas in August 2005 agreed to five clauses, including cooperation in agriculture science and technology.
A private organ also established a joint farming area in Mount Kumgang between 2005 and 2007, eventually expanded it to Kaesong district in 2007, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) said.
North-South agricultural cooperation has been suspended since Pyongyang’s second nuclear test in 2009, but earlier in the month South Korean Minister of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs Kim Yung-rok said the ministry was “ready to directly expand and begin exchanges in the field of agriculture.”
“I am aware that North Korea is also interested in agricultural exchanges,” Kim said, in an interview with Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency. “I will deeply look into the matters necessary for the exchanges.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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