The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Minister Chung Hwang-keun, MAFRA) has implemented the “Agri-food Voucher Pilot Project.” The project is designed to strengthen low-income vulnerable people’s access to nourishing food, support nutritional adequacy and expand the basis for the consumption of agricultural products by providing a card to purchase agricultural products including fruits, vegetables and meat and supporting dietary life education.
The Agri-food Voucher Project has been promoted in a pilot manner since 2020. As of 2022, 15 places of si∙gun∙gu* are providing vouchers worth of 40,000 Korean won every month per a single-person household for households with the median income of 50% and less beginning this March.
* Geoje-si, Goesan-gun, Gimje-si, Dangjin-si, Busanjin-gu, Miryang-si, Yangpyeong-gun, Yecheon-gun, Ongjin-gun, Jangseong-gun, Jeongeup-si, Cheongdo-gun, Cheongyang-gun, Pyeongchang-gun, Haenam-gun
The pilot project of the previous two years in 2020 and 2021 (October 2021 to March 2022, Korea Rural Economic Institute, KREI) showed that it had positive impacts such as the increase in various and adequate food consumption and improvement in dietary life. Beneficiaries of the target regions of the pilot project were highly satisfied, and their interest in domestically grown agricultural products. In particular, the percentage of beneficiaries who answered that they could have adequate and various food increased, expanding the food choices of the less fortunate. This showed that dietary life has been improved.
* ① The percentage of people who answered that they had enough food as they wished: up 16.6%p (34.8→51.4)
② The percentage of people who answered they had various food: up 24.1%p (25.3→49.4)
Amid the situation where the vulnerable communities’ food purchase and dietary life are faced with difficulties due to a surge in price for everyday purchase, the Agri-food Voucher Project is reliving their economic burden as well. During the high inflation, real income is temporarily reduced. Under such circumstances, vulnerable people are highly likely to reduce food consumption first. In fact, KREI’s survey conducted on the disadvantaged revealed that respondents who reduced the purchase of apparel∙footwear and food ranked first (66%) and second (49%), respectively. In other words, rising inflation may worsen the dietary life of the less fortunate. Given the situation, the Agri-food Voucher Project is helping relieve insecure population’s burden of cost of living.
Going forward, the government will enhance food choices by adding more purchasable food items in the second half of this year, to promote the effectiveness of the pilot project. Small and medium marts and online malls will be included in addition to the existing purchasing areas including Nonhyup Hanaro marts, local agri-food (local food) farmers’ markets and Nonghyup malls, to enhance the users’ convenience.
Director General Kim Jong-gu of Marketing & Consumer Policy Bureau from MAFRA said, “The Agri-food Voucher Project is a meaningful project which helps strengthen food safety of vulnerable people and establish the consumption basis for agri-food products. We will actively expand the Agri-food Voucher Project to stabilize the livelihood of vulnerable people amid rising inflation and to support nutritional improvement by providing high-quality agri-food products.”