Global food crisis and domestic contestations over food and agricultural policy
In the current debate of a global rush for farm land there seems to be an implicit consensus that the drive for resources is driven by increased global competition due to increased demand from emerging economic powerhouses such as China and India but also from resource poor countries such as South Korea. While each country has distinct economies, policies, and histories compiling all countries into one is problematic and even dangerous as it oversimplifies complex issue into an “Asian onslaught” onto the Global Economy. Also these generalizations do little to understand why certain governments decide to pursue overseas agricultural development while others do not. In this paper I seek to provide further understanding of the underlying causes for overseas farmland acquisitions in the case of South Korea. Korea's current overseas agricultural development policy is put into context with the government's other policies that affect the Korean agricultural sector such as domestic economic development priorities and bilateral free trade agreements with large agricultural exporters such as Chile, the EU and the USA. It is observed that these policies all have in common that they to a large extent neglect the voices of the domestic agricultural sector consisting primarily of small scale farmers, while protecting and furthering the interests of economically and politically powerful conglomerates. In turn, I point to the historically contentious relationship between left-leaning farmer's movements and the ruling conservative party. In doing so, I wish to point out the importance of conducting in depth research to why certain emerging economies may pursue overseas resource development while others may not, not only in response to perceived global crisis, but also in response to domestic development policies, domestic politics, and in particular the role of the agricultural sector in national development schemes.