SEJONG-- South Korea plans to give rice to developing nations after it joins an international food assistance convention as part of its ambition to stabilize the local rice supply and help the needy around the world, the farm ministry said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it is preparing steps to join the Food Assistance Convention (FAC), expecting parliamentary approval for the membership by the end of this year.

If approved, the ministry plans to ship about 50,000 tons of rice, worth 46 billion won (US$40.5 million), next year.

The country had some 300,000 tons of excess rice last year, as the 4.2 million tons of staple grain it produced exceeded the 3.9 million tons consumed, and the level of overproduction will likely stay at 200,000 tons in 2017.

The chronic oversupply of rice comes as a growing number of South Koreans have been reducing their rice intake and diversifying their diets with alternatives like wheat, barley, beans and corn.

The FAC is a 14-nation convention aimed at promoting global food security and providing humanitarian food assistance to developing countries. Members include the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and Australia.

Source: Yonhap News Agency