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Seoul able to provide 300,000 tons of rice to N. Korea out of 1.3 mil. tons in stock: watchers Updated: 2019-05-09 19:09:20 KST

If South Korea were to deliver food aid directly to North Korea, how much food would Seoul be able to send?
According to the agriculture ministry, the government has currently 1.3 million tons of spare rice in stock.
Excluding the amount needed for domestic use, watchers say that Seoul would be able to send 300-thousand tons of rice to the North.
The delivery isn't expected to make much of an impact on the domestic rice market but rather reduce the cost of storing excess rice.

South Korea first provided rice to the North back in 1995.
The government sent regular batches, mostly as loans, between 2000 and 2007 when liberal administrations were in office.
The last provision was in 2010 to help Pyeongyang cope with flood damage.

But direct provision of food aid to the North is not the only option on the table.
Seoul's food assistance to Pyeongyang can be made through the UN's World Food Programme.
Related discussions are expected to take place next Monday when South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha meets with WFP's Executive Director David Beasley.
Seoul was ready to send humanitarian aid worth 4.5 million U.S. dollars to the North through the WFP in 2017, but that assistance didn't go through.

"Seoul's unification ministry says what’s most important is meeting the most urgent needs of the beneficiaries in North Korea. While related government agencies will be reviewing when, how and how much food aid should be given, the government says its top priority is to maximize the effect of the humanitarian assistance. Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News."
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