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Asan Horticultural Cooperative Picking up Speed in Exporting Asan Pear

Growing Export of Asan Pears

The pear export of the Asan Horticultural Cooperative located in Asan in Chungcheongnam-do has been significantly increasing in the midst of the sufferings of producers as pears were overharvested in 2008 compared to the previous year. Export is gaining momentum as Shingo pears (‘Niitaka’ pear [a cultivar introduced from Japan]) produced in Asan started being exported to Taiwan in earnest on December 20, 2008, since which date the Asan Horticultural Cooperative has exported 150 tons of Asan pears by mid-January this year. The volume exported to Taiwan for 2008 amounts to some 400 tons, which is more than double compared to 190 tons in the same period of 2007. To meet the increased consumption of pears during the lunar New Year holiday in Taiwan, the Asan Horticultural Cooperative had to work into the night until 10pm for twenty days from the end of last year. The main reason behind the sharp increase in the pear export to Taiwan is their high quality - their succulence and sweetness - which is appreciated by local consumers. Although Korean pears have to compete with Chinese ones imported to Taiwan, they have a more competitive edge because of their excellent quality. Currently, Asan pears are exported under the brand name ‘Whimori’ and ‘Asan Pear.’

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Export Increase Attributed to the Production of High-Quality Pears

The high quality of Asan pears is the combined result of the advantageous geographical conditions around Asan and the concerted efforts of the Asan Horticultural Cooperative, exporting-pear farms, and administrative institutions. Asan is a propitious area for growing pear trees where the average age of Asan pear trees is around fifteen years, which is the age they can yield the best pears. And as the time when the pears ripen into full maturity comes, the temperature gap between day and night in Asan widens enough for the sugar content of the pears to be heightened.

The Asan Agricultural Technology Center offers information on the cultivation technology to the pear farms helping them to produce higher-quality pears. It sends text messages to each farmer’s cell phone advising about the right time to wrap the pears for export, how to control Carposina niponensis (a kind of noxious pest), and other information related to important measures in cultivating pears. The person at the center who is in charge of pear cultivation visits every exporting-pear orchard two or three times a week and meticulously carries out an inspection for possible damage caused by blight and harmful insects. In addition, the center provides the farms with useful microorganisms to encourage the farms to raise their pears in an eco-friendly way. By culturing the microorganisms, strewing them over the soil, and applying the urea foliar spray method (dissolving the microorganisms in water and then spraying the leaves with it), the farms can benefit from the effects the preventative measures and enhance the sweetness of their pears. Keeping abreast with the efforts the center makes, the Asan Horticultural Cooperative educates the farms that it is better to use a limited amount of specific agrichemicals five times a year to ensure the production of safe pears.

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Through Strict Quality Maintenance and Safety Inspections, Asan Pears Will soon be Exported to the United States

Asan is designated as an exporting complex area that exports its pears to the United States as well as to Taiwan. The complex consists of 48 farms and it exported some 267 tons of pears in 2008. Recently, Korean Shingo pears have been getting popular in America and accordingly the export volume of the pears has been swelling. There are three factors that need to be considered when exporting pears to the United States: tackling the various issues related to Carposina niponensis, wrapping, and the conditions of cultivation. Before the pears are exported, quarantine officers dispatched from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspects the conditions of the pears ready for export. They choose randomly some sample pears to test the quality of a batch of which have been the through sorting and wrapping steps. As a result of this thorough random inspection, the safety and the quality of the pears are given the green light to be exported.

Ku Bon-kwen, Managing director of the Asan Horticultural Cooperative, said: “The pear cultivars being exported abroad are Wonwhang and Shingo pears. We conducted market research in Taiwan last September and found that Asan pears are highly recognized on the Taiwanese wholesale market. Indeed, Asan pears have been getting so popular on overseas markets that some USD$ 1.12m worth of the pears were exported to Taiwan and the United States for just one year, 2008. ON the back of this success we will continue to endeavor to expand our export whilst stabilizing the prices of pears at home.”

Inquiries  Ku Bon-kwen    Tel  +82-41-544-4851    Fax  +82-41-544-4854    E-mail  gun4851@hanmail.net

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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