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Chinese-made Drones Dominating Korean Farms

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Chinese-made Drones Dominating Korean Farms​

  • Editor Michael Herh
  • 2023.10.18 14:46
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A drone spraying pest control chemicals on a field in Korea

The share of Chinese-made drones in Korea’s rural areas has ballooned, following the trend of Chinese-made solar power facilities across Korea.

According to data that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs submitted to the Office of Ahn Byung-gil, a member of the National Assembly on Oct. 17, the share of subsidies for Chinese-made drones among those for drones that received government loan support for rural use climbed from 62.6 percent in 2017 to 84.7 percent this year (as of July).

The amount of the Korean government’s subsidies for drones has been on a steady rise since 2019, with 3.248 billion won (US$2.405 million or 86.8 percent) of the total 3.74 billion won going to Chinese-made drones in 2022. In 2020, more than 9 out of 10 drones (91.1 percent) that received government financing were made in China. The rest were made in Korea.

The Korean government is supporting the purchase of drones with the aim of increasing farming with drones in rural areas with a shortage of labor due to the declining and aging farming population. Recently, drones have been increasingly used in farming fields to spread seed, fertilizer, and chemicals for controlling pests.

Chinese-made drones are increasing market share in Korea thanks to competitive prices and technology. The problem is that the Korean drone market in particular has been rapidly eroded by Chinese products, despite the fact that the Korean government had spent billions of won on research and development projects to localize agricultural machinery every year. Korea’s Rural Development Administration was given a budget of about 7 billion won for farming drones for this year.

As Chinese-made agricultural drones have become increasingly popular in Korea, there are also concerns about the leakage of Korea’s land and farming data to China. In fact, in 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a memo stating that Chinese drone manufacturer DJI was collecting data and sending it to China. In November of last year, the UK Home Office also raised national security concerns about Chinese drones.

 
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