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Daegwanryeong,Emerging as an Optimal Place for Exporting Summer Strawb

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The fifteen farms comprising the Daegwanryeong Strawberry Cooperative Co. in Gangwon Province are the only ones in Korea that mass-produce summer strawberries. Daegwanryeong in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, is a hilly area at an altitude of 700 meters. While the temperature of cities in Korea is around 30℃ in early summer in late June, in Daegwanryeong the temperature is only 18℃ or so which is as cool as in the autumn. Even in the hottest August the average temperature of Daegwanryeong is no more than 20℃. Given that the suitable temperature to grow strawberries is between 17℃ and 20℃, Daegwanryeong is considered an optimal place for cultivation.

The farms of the Daegwanryeong Strawberry Cooperative Co. have been raising strawberries since 2002 and now the total area under the cultivation comes to some 8.6ha. All the strawberries produced by the Cooperative Co. are exported to Japan. The exported amount was 125 tons in 2007 which was equivalent to USD$ 1.82m. This year the Cooperative Co. plans to produce 160 tons of strawberries and earn USD$ 2.4m of export.

Pulpy and Tasty Variety is in Good Favor in Japan
The strawberries cultivated in Daegwanryeong are of the ‘Flamingo,’ a British variety, and are imported at 450~500 won per plant. In Korea a strawberry cultivar suitable for summer cultivation was developed early this year. Although imported 8~10kg of strawberries in the area of 3.3m2 is produced yearly and 9,000 won per 1kg of strawberries is gained. Thus the farms are not hesitant to invest because of the considerable profit.

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The key factor in realizing high-profit is the export to Japan where the strawberries are mainly used for cake ornaments. Currently, however, Japan mainly uses frozen strawberries imported from the United States for cake ornamentation and imports fresh strawberries from China and Korea. Among imported fresh strawberries, the Flamingo produced in Daegwanryeong is gaining popularity in Japan as it has a hard flesh and is sourish or sweet.

In particular, the Daegwanryeong strawberries guarantee safety because they are cultivated with fluid in a clean area and over 80% of the cultivation area is equipped with 100~150cm-high facilities. In addition, cultivation experts from Japanese importers are invited to come twice a month and advise on how to prevent blight and control noxious insects and on technology management. The export of the Daegwanryeong strawberries also takes advantage of the close proximity of Korean and Japan. The strawberries are exported by air and arrive within two or three days in Japan. The Korean farmers were working every other day from June 4 when export started this year, and every day to meet the increased orders from the late June.

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Stable Supply and High Income through Increasing Yields and Cultivation Areas
The Daegwanryeong Strawberry Cooperative Co. is concentrating on producing more strawberries to meet increased orders. The harvest of the Flamingo variety is as much as 20kg under the 3.3m2 of cultivation area. However, most of the farmers pick up less than 10kg of the strawberries. If the yield is increased to 15kg per 3.3m2, the gains can be increased one and a half times. Therefore, the Cooperative Co. is doing its utmost to boost the training of farmers and the sharing of information on cultivation technology.

The Daegwanryeong Strawberry Cooperative Co. is planning to expand the cultivation area by 1ha a year. Since strawberries became a high-income agriproduct as a result of export, the Cooperative Co. is offering opportunities for more farmers to grow the strawberries through expansion. This enables farmers to meet fully the orders from Japanese importers as well as to distribute the strawberries at home. Park Yong-seok, head of the Daegwanryeong Strawberry Cooperative Co., said: “The domestic market is also demanding strawberries, but we can’t supply because of the lack of production. For now we are concentrating on export and we will increase the production by 300 tons utilizing the accumulated cultivation technology.”

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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