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A masterclass for pig producers in South Korea

September 2021: The first group of Korean meister pig farmers have completed the master class by Wageningen University and Research.
September 2021: The first group of Korean meister pig farmers have completed the master class by Wageningen University and Research.

As a country, South Korea is very advanced indeed in many aspects. In terms of pig production, however, the Asian country could use a little bit of help, Robert Hoste found out, senior pig production economist at Wageningen University & Research. He set up a masterclass for pig producers, with a fourth round starting in spring 2024. A short introduction to cross-continental knowledge transfer.

Curiosity – that is what drove Korean pig producers Song Il-hwan and Kim Mun-jo (both aged 57) to participate in a masterclass programme offered by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) on location in South Korea. The Dutch university started to offer these masterclasses in an attempt to help Korea’s pig industry move ahead a few steps.

Within the institute from the Netherlands, Robert Hoste has been a driving force in increasing the cooperation. He is senior pig production economist at the WUR and has been interested in South Korea’s pig industry for a decade now. During a multi-year cooperation project between South Korea and the WUR, he analysed the country’s pig industry and became more connected to the Asian country, which has a pig industry consisting of 6,000 producers, both integrators as well as independent producers. He says, “South Korea as a country is being advanced in many ways, and that includes a professional feed and meat processing industry. Yet, its pig industry, with on average 18 finishers per sow per year, could do with a little help.”

Masterclass series

To that end, in cooperation with Prof. Chang-gil Kim of Seoul National University, Wageningen UR coordinated the set-up of a masterclass series, consisting of 10 sessions focusing on topics such as pig nutrition, economics, management and animal welfare. The aim of these sessions was to help Korea’s producers to progress, but also to invite them to take a look at Dutch farms via real-time online farm visits.

The first group of seven producers graduated in September 2021. They were approached after first having completed a Korean meister programme, which is an extensive educational programme that has been offered by the local authorities since 2009. In this way, there was a logic whom to approach first for courses with knowledge from overseas. Ever since, WUR has been giving various rounds of new masterclass courses for Korea’s pig farmers. A third round finished in December 2023, with the next round starting in March 2024. So far, a total of 39 producers managed to attend the three courses.

Dr Song Il-hwan and Kim Munj-jo were both in the first group of seven producers that completed the programme. In the boxes below, they explain what kind of farm they are running and how the master classes have benefited them.

This article became possible with the kind help of Kyohyun An and Prof. Chang-gil Kim.

Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world
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