Ganghwa Agricultural Technology Service Center is Spearheading the Project of Globalizing Local Korean Food
GANGHWA, KOREA — Starting with the export of dramas and films, the Korean Wave has spread rapidly in combination with other genres of Korean traditional food, Korean arts, and Korean performances. K-pop Cover Dance Festival, where youngsters dress up like Korean idol stars and dance like them, is held regularly all over the world. The demand for ghostwriters and Korean language institutes is also on the rise. Furthermore, the Korean Wave, which has previously been localized in Southeast Asia, has finally landed in the center of the European culture, which gives Koreans a great pride in the upgraded status of our culture.
The world now desires more from Korea in various fields including K-pop, drama, medicine, cosmetics, alcoholic drinks, and food. Most of all, Korean food is drawing the world’s attention as a form of healing food. In Korean food, ingredients are the most important components, since how the food is cooked, for whom, and with what ingredients whether it will save the person. In that sense, Ganghwa Agricultural Technology service Center(GATC) has a bright future as a traditional food provider and will be the center of another Korean Wave with environment-friendly food that is locally produced.
Bringing Local Food to the World: “Kitchen of the Farmhouse” Project
Ganghwa Agricultural Technology service Center(GATC, http://agri.ganghwa.go.kr/agricenter_e/main/main.asp) is spearheading the project of globalizing local Korean food. Jo Bo-hwan, Chief of Ganghwa Agricultural Technology Service Center, said, “We are trying to lay the foundation for developing GATC into a global local food provider through overseas marketing of selective local food traditionally from the Ganghwa area.” GATC is preparing a project allowing foreigners who visit Ganghwa to enjoy the taste and flavor of the traditional local food in its natural environment, which encourages them to purchase the food by giving them opportunities to try drinks and sauces themselves at such farmhouses as the ones seen in Korean dramas. Taking advantage of the location close to Incheon International Airport, GATC is now trying to simultaneously provide experiential marketing and distribution. That, in essence, is the “Kitchen of the Farmhouse” project.
Developing Tradition to the Present and Future with Fermented Food
Mr. Jo of GATC has paid close attention to fermented food among local food. Fermented food is already known for its efficacy worldwide and it has become a popular consumption trend for people from all over the world. Accordingly, the worldwide demand for fermented food has recently increased. Korea has a long tradition and history of fermented food. Kimchi, Korea’s number one fermented food, was named as one of the “5 health foods of the world” by Health Magazine. Other traditional fermented foods, doenjang, (fermented) soybean paste and cheonggukjang, fast-fermented bean paste, are widely known to prevent cancer.
GATC is focusing on developing a new line of fermented food, as it realizes its value as the future food, and its close relationship with health and long life. For this reason, it is constructing the Total Agricultural Processing Center(TAPC), a two-story building on land of approximately 660 m2. With the subject of enzymes, sweet pickle, and vinegar fermentation, TAPC plans to be equipped with facilities for developing products and business incubation such as a fermentation cafeteria, fermented food promotional hall, fermentation kitchen, ripening room, and low temperature storage shed. This center is scheduled to open this coming September.
GATC is planning to produce sweet pickles of Ganghwa Mugwort at the TAPC and export it abroad. Ganghwa Mugwort among the same kind is widely recognized to have a medicinal efficacy. Armie World in GATC is designated as a special Mugwort Zone by the government with an effort to develop it as the local specialty. Sweet pickled Mugwort drink provides increased opportunities for the public to learn about Ganghwa Mugwort.
Core Business in GATC
The processing industry in the form of the farmhouse is possible in Ganghwa because of the convenient location with easy access to the city and an optimized natural environment. For the processing industry, GATC is benchmarking the fermentation processing industry in and outside of the country that is spearheading the local food trend. It is also trying to legalize it as a scientific and sanitary processing industry while inventing innovative items that can be commercialized in the industry.
GATC is planning to pass the secret processing methods down to farm families at TAPC so that they can start their own businesses. Moreover, it plans to establish the Venture Technology Center where a model farm family venture is promoted for export. In the preparation phase, it built a professional network to be utilized by the farm. For example, they formed a roadmap for a farm family venture, set up a professional panel for an agricultural processing venture, designed the package for processed agricultural products, recorded data of prices formed in the existing markets, and kept track of processing trend. This is all done in order to efficiently manage time and avoid trial and error due to repetitive market research.
Also, GATC will keep close connection with specialized institutes and schools including Korea Diet Development Institute and Incheon Culture Art College in order to make people interested in food culture. This will be conducted by showing the balanced nature with traditional food culture, wellbeing table setting, and food coordination. The group is now focusing on fostering Ganghwa farmers by introducing a variety of curricula into Ganghwa Farmers Academy for more professional education. It has been running the school for 14 years.
Green Tourism for Ganghwa Community Revitalization: Agritourism
GATC is currently operating 25 farm tour villages in total including three traditional theme villages such as Moonlight Story Village and five education farms like Hwamunseok (sedge mats woven in different patterns) tour villages. These places provide unique experiences, local food, and accommodation for visitors. City tourists experience farm-related activities such as digging out sweet potatoes, rice-planting, harvesting strawberries, and weaving Hwamunseok. Education farms have connected curriculum with schools of all levels ranging from kindergarten to high school. Visitors who come as a family unit are on the rise, which leads to immense national vitality and profit. Jo Bo-hwan, Chief of GATC, said, “We are going to boost the economy of the Ganghwa region with a greater variety of programs in the future.”
Ganghwa Mugwort Festival, Guarantee for Health
.” It has been processed for oriental moxa treatment, medicine, and health supplement food since it was initially grown on the farm. Actually, it originally grew wild near halfway up the Mani Mountain. Recently, it has garnered increased attention as it has a high efficacy in preventing cancer, inflammation, and pain as well as atopic dermatitis and obesity.
Ganghwa-gun has held four Mugwort Festivals since 2009 to allow people to understand the medicinal efficacy and the function as the health supplement of Ganghwa Mugwort. The festival featured various firsthand experience programs including oriental diagnosis of bodily constitution, experience of oriental moxa treatment, Mugwort Smoke(Ssukjahun), Mugwort massage, Mugwort natural dye, cutting Mugwort.
17 Mugwort processing vendors were showcased in the Mugwort marketplace of the festival in Ganghwa, showing 50 different products. In the food square, different Mugwort menus were introduced including Mugwort cold noodle, Mugwort makgeolli (rice wine), Gukbap (boiled rice served in soup), Mugwort fried shrimp, and Mugwort pancake. Mr, Jo said, “We will do our best to turn this into a global festival where foreigners as well as local people can enjoy everything we have to offer.”
Unique Service with Environment-friendly Agricultural Products
GATC is planning to provide a differentiated service by producing more environment-friendly agricultural products that are safe for consumption and of high quality. To do this, the center sponsors four different fields; environment-friendly organic manure, environment-friendly material, soil conditioner, and side manuring. Also, it distributes seedlings of quality sweet potatoes to commercialize wellbeing agricultural products, constantly improves facilities and environments, increases crop-growing sectors, and supports distribution costs and packing materials to boost the export of agricultural products.
Ganghwa is located in the center of the Korean peninsula and has a perfect climate for agriculture, which makes six-year-old ginseng very effective. Not only ginseng, but a variety of agricultural products produced in Ganghwa have strong medicinal effects. Its local specialties include ginseng, Ganghwa rice, Mugwort, Grapes, and turnips. Ganghwa rice, in particular, is quality guaranteed by using organic fertilizer instead of pesticide. Kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools located in Incheon are provided quality meals centered on Ganghwa rice.
GATC is running a quality control lab where varieties of Ganghwa rice are identified and the quality of rice is analyzed to ensure tremendous quality control of environment-friendly Ganghwa rice. It is also running a quality analysis lab to develop sources for functional foods and medicines and utilize intellectual property rights.
Furthermore, it has applied for 26 patents including “composites made from Mugwort extracts for prevention and treatment of diabetes” in cooperation with excellent research institutes and universities nationwide in order to overcome the limitations as a local research agency. To date, the organization has published 20 papers in SCI-listed academic journals abroad, proving the excellence of Ganghwa Mugwort scientifically. Against this backdrop, the center is pushing to register Ganghwa Mugwort at the Korea Food and Drug Administration as a source for antidiabetic functional food.