The Second Korea Seed Expo will take place 23–26 October at K-Seed Valley, S. Korea’s state-of-the-art seed and breeding R&D complex in Gimje City of Jeollabukdo Province on the Korean peninsula’s southwest coast.
Jeollabukdo Province reputedly has the country’s most fertile fields and is known for agriculture. Organized by the Foundation of Agri. Tech. Commercialization and Transfer (FACT), the expo is sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), Jeollabukdo Province and Gimje City. Supported by the Korean Seed Association (KOSA) and other seed industry related institutions, the event will feature exhibitions and demonstrations aimed at promoting Korea’s seed industry development through international seed trade opportunities. To learn more, Asian Seed spoke with Kyung-Ku Ahn of FACT:
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How many exhibitors are expected and which companies have confirmed?
We are inviting more than 50 companies including not only seed companies but seed industry-related agro companies. 23 seed companies have scheduled field demonstration programs. We are recruiting more vendors for the exhibition hall booths. By comparison, 36 companies participated in Korea Seed Expo 2017.
How many visitors are expected? Is it a public event?
Our goal is to attract over 40,000 visitors to this public event. Last year we had 36,000. Central and local governments are funding, and the Seed Industry Promotion Center (SIPC) of FACT plans and manages the event. Currently, participation is free for all exhibitors and visitors.
The physical size of this year’s event is approximately double that of last year’s. We are building four exhibition halls; there were two last year. The field demonstration area increases from 30,000 square meters to 40,000, and the number of plastic houses from four to eight.
We will show field crop varieties and exotic germplasms as well as seed company commercial varieties.
How much has been budgeted for organization? Are there any targets?
A total of 1 billion won (about US$900,000) is budgeted, and we hope to achieve business contracts totaling about 5 billion won during the event. By promoting export of excellent varieties, we hope to make it more international and to grow as a representative seed event in the Asian region.
What can we expect to see?
The Seed Industry Hall will exhibit seed company products. The Seed Theme Hall features booths from agriculture-related institutions such as the Rural Development Administration (RDA), the Korea Seed and Variety Service (KSVS), etc. In the Agro-Industry Hall, agro-company booths will display products related to young plant raising, agricultural materials, agricultural machines, among others. In the Educational Experience Hall, visitors can learn from a number of on-site, seed-related, education programs.
In the demonstration field, we are growing 17 crops with 296 varieties, mostly commercial vegetables provided by seed companies. With regard to international trade, we have prepared a “buyer invitation and matching program”. Academic events, a seed-related symposium and seminars are also scheduled.
Most agriculture-related industry events are held in convention centers – in cities. So, we decided to organize this event to have a demonstration field showing varieties as they grow, which is important in the seed industry because the actual performance of many seed products from different companies can be evaluated in one place. Compared to last year, this year’s event has greater diversity, whether from among commercial varieties or the collections of public institutions.
Something that should be of great interest is the Golden Seed Project (GSP), a seed R&D project organized jointly by MAFRA, RDA, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), and the Korean Forest Service (KFS). We will have a booth on the GSP and its important developments at the expo. It is aimed at helping seed companies develop competitive new products for the global market, as seed company breeders work with university and public institute researchers to enhance breeding and breeding technology.
Whom do you hope to see?
We want to enhance international trade — but we also have programs to attract R&D people, suppliers, growers and others. To that end, we are preparing better services, such as business programs, information and interpretation, transportation and accommodation, tours and more.
Last year many non-professionals interested in seeds and the seed industry attended. That’s why we’ve prepared educational programs for families and students. As a long-term goal, recruitment of young talent is most important for industry development, so we’ll have fun activities such as sweet potato harvesting. We are also preparing more rest zones in the exhibition halls and at the demonstration field.
What makes Korean seed stand out?
Korean seed products change quickly, adapting to market needs. Korean consumers are keen on quality and want more diverse and healthy foods. Against this backdrop, Korean companies develop new varieties for international markets by adding good traits developed for the Korean market.
What seeds from Korea or Korean companies do you think are the best?
Chili peppers, Chinese cabbage and Oriental radish are very competitive in global markets. Korean people eat these at almost every meal, therefore competition is keen among seed companies to make better varieties. Then, Korea has four seasons, which influences our differing types, such as spring, summer, fall and ‘overwinter’ Chinese cabbage. At the expo, various varieties of fall segment Brassica crops can be seen.
What is the current trend in Korea’s seed industry?
We are moving from emphasis on what growers demand to what consumers demand. We still need to address the demands of growers — such as disease resistance — but the trend is towards meeting consumer demands. So now one variety must meet the needs not only of growers, but of processors and consumers. Then there is the ‘Smart Farm’ concept, of cultivation in more controlled environments — so I’d say the seed industry trend is towards focusing more on high-value varieties.