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S.Korean farmers to set up rice bank to aid N.Korea
South Korean farmers plan to establish a rice bank to help the impoverished North Korea and the poor within the South.

Farmers are also expecting the aid would boost demand for domestic rice amid concerns further opening of the rice market under the World Trade Organisation system may put the farming industry in serious jeopardy.

"South Korean farmers are worried about huge rice surplus and market liberalisation. On the other hand, there are lots of poor people still in hunger and especially North Koreans heavily depend on outside aid," Chong Minsu, executive director of Seoul Rice Exposition Organizing Committee, said on Sunday.

Rice bank, planned to start from May, will be run by donations from local businesses and individuals, purchasing local rice to distribute the poor.

"The bank will connect donors with the needy," he told in a rice festival at Dorasan, the last station on the southern side of the strictly guarded buffer zone that straddles the actual border between the North and South.

The two Koreas have been discussing rebuilding rail links through the border that divides the peninsula.

Local media have said former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who recently had put off a visit to the North until June, wanted to use the rail during the trip.

The committee hoped the railway links would be restored this summer to transport the first aid of rice to North Korea, Chong said.

In 2004, Seoul signed an agreement with nine rice-exporting countries, including the United States and China, to increase its quota of imported rice to 7.96 percent by 2014 from 4 percent of the country's total rice consumption.
MGR Archive 5.3.2006
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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