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Class XIII Curriculum

"International Seminar"

 Seminar XIII

China and South Korea

February 16-28, 2008

 
China Korea Trip Info

Pre-Trip Reports

China Current Events

Korea Current Events

 

February 16-18 - Travel from United States to Seoul
Co-Scribes: Francie Tolle and Mary Chris Barth

Class 13 was split into 3 groups that would travel to L.A. Two groups left from Oklahoma City and one from Tulsa. Part of the group met at the Oklahoma City airport around noon on Saturday, February 16th. The weather was cold and rainy but the spirits of the class were high in anticipation of a fun filled educational trip that would be forever remembered by the class.

After a short mishap with the tickets the first group headed through security and boarded a plane to Salt Lake City where there was a short 5 hour layover! A good place to catch up and talk about what was to come.

A second group left OKC after their flight through Dallas was cancelled and rerouted through Denver.

The Tulsa group left the Tulsa airport and headed for Denver. About ten minutes after departure the plane was hit by lightening! When they finally arrived in Denver their flight was delayed due to mechanical failure. Despite all, the third group made it to L.A.

When the class landed in L.A. and found the way to the international terminal it felt like we had already left the country. A host of foreign languages were being spoken and everything seemed fast and furious.

Once in the international terminal all three groups met up and prepared to board the plane for a 13 hour plane ride. All went well with a "heavy snack menu" of your choice of a Western style or Korean style snack. The Western style included an appetizer of marinated shrimp and black olive, a mixed garden salad and beef tenderloin steak with peppercorn sauce and mixed vegetables with apple tart. The Korean style included steamed sweet pumpkin, Bi-Bim-Bab (steamed rice, assorted vegetables, soup and kimchi) and fresh fruit.

After the food, sleep was in order. For breakfast we were offered fruit yogurt and a cheese omelet or steamed rice with kimchi and fresh fruit.

We landed in Seoul about 6:30 a.m. Monday morning, skipping Sunday entirely! The airport was quite because it was so early. The airport was very nice and the class found a spot to buy coffee and wait on the next flight to Beijing.

 

February 18th – Monday - Beijing
Co-Scribes – Tammi Didlot, JD Elwood

After a long 33 hours of traveling, we arrived at noon Beijing time to begin the journey and experience of a lifetime. And with every experience come trials and tribulations, as Galynn, Ted, and Mary Chris can attest to. Their luggage is still traveling.

We met with our tour guides, Mr. Hau Quin and Ms. Lynne Sun, and loaded bus to the Hotel. We had a quick 30 minutes to drop our stuff off and then head out to Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. What an interesting place. This was built the in center of Beijing and is bordered by the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum of China. The Tiananmen Square has witnessed many of the historical events that happened in China since 1911. The one thing you find consistent throughout the entire location is security. The Emperor was very cautious and concerned with security and the design of the Forbidden City exhibited this by having 7 entrances and this gave 7 barriers to the Emperor. There were 999 ½ rooms in the Forbidden City. The ½ room was used as a sort of punishment for one of 55 concubines. Another thing that was prevalent in the Forbidden City and within the culture is the significance of size, color, location and the use of animals. The architecture of each of the palaces had a specific reason. The height of the roof indicated which building is most important. On the roof line there were animals shown at each corner and the greater the number of animals the more important the building. The entire location is built by wood. There is a great amount of renovation going on right now due to the Olympics coming here this summer.

After touring The Forbidden City, we concluded having a Tea Party Celebration in the Tea House where we had the pleasure of sampling several different types of teas. Tea in China is used for medicinal purposes. For example, Jasmine tea is good for your eyes. It was a great way to conclude the tour.

We also had the experience of dealing with many street vendors or peddlers. These people were very aggressive and really didn’t like to take no or “Boo” (which is no in Chinese) for an answer.

We returned to our hotel to enjoy a traditional Chinese dinner. This food isn’t anything like you get off the buffet at Hunan Garden in the states. It was served at each table on a “Lazy Susan” that turned in the center of the table. We had goose, several types of fish, and shrimp which included the head. All of the food was interesting and it really tasted pretty good. During our dinner, our guide surprised two members of our group by acknowledging their birthdays, Ron Hays and Galynn Beer. They had cake and a musical group that came in and played music on antique instruments. The entire group dispersed after dinner to get some much needed sleep. We were all exhausted after a long day of traveling and sightseeing.

 

February 19th - Beijing
Scribes: Joe Locke and Keeff Felty

Our first morning in Beijing, started with a continental breakfast. For most of us it was the first truly continental breakfast that we have ever had. There were 50 plus choices ranging from omelets and fruit to French pastries, and lo mien noodles, steamed dumplings etc.etc.etc.

After breakfast we headed out for the GREAT WALL of China, it was about a one hour trip north of Beijing. The wall was built to protect China from the Mongols and other warring tribes and is over 3000 miles long. The section that we visited is known as the “Piled greens at Juyongguan “It is one of the eight sites in Yanjing. This particular section is very steep and required a very difficult climb even if you went just a short distance. Several of our group made it to the very top which is quiet an achievement. About ¾ of the way up there is a small booth where if you were able to make it that far you could purchase a hero card with your picture on it as well as a much needed bottle of water. After the great wall we then traveled down the mountain and toured a Jade factory, where they showed us the carving process and talked about the different types of Jade. Jade is only found in China and Burma, and real Jade will darken over time and is considered in China to be worth more than gold. After a tour of the processing floor there were shops available for all types of jade jewelry and this is one of the few places you can buy government certified jade. We then were treated to a traditional Chinese lunch.

After lunch we then traveled back to the Hotel, for a quick change and then a trip over to the American embassy and were treated to a presentation by the William W. Westman the minister- counselor for agriculture affairs. One of the primary roles of his office is to verify the commodity numbers for the country of china. The other primary role is working to overcome trade barriers or issues that come up involving imports and market access for American companies. Mr.Westman commented that one of the more frustrating parts of his job is dealing with retribution issues. These are restrictions that are put on American agriculture exports due to non agricultural political policies in Washington D.C.

Once leaving the embassy we traveled to the Beijing Silk .This building had over 8 floors with hundreds of shops, or cubical set up much like a flea market in the United States. The floors are broken down by product line with some having shoes and leather and others having silk, electronics etc. This was a very exciting experience as the shop keepers are VERY aggressive and everything is negotiable. After an hour or so of shopping we then went to the sixth floor and were treated to Peking Duck the traditional dish of Beijing. As with other meals it was served in a traditional family style setting. The tables are always round with the food being placed in the middle of the table on a very large lazy Susan. Once seated you are offered hot tea and small plates of cold appetizers. Once the appetizers are served your are then offered a small cool beverage “ Very few drinks are cold because they do not use ice “ following this you are then treated to the main course in at least 15 styles all including duck.

 

February 20th - Beijing
Scribes: Kevin Propps and Joey Meibergen

Today was an early start with a Chinese/American Buffet style breakfast from 6:30 to 7:30. The menu consisted of both American and Traditional Chinese cuisine.

We departed the hotel at 7:30 inbound for the largest AG food products market in Beijing. While in route Su Lyn told us about her impression of Chinese Agriculture and the traditional Chinese Farmer. As the farmer makes up somewhat 80% of the population they are very important towards the feeding of China’s nearly 1.4 billion population. The Chinese farmer is a very poor sector of china and they are responsible for what land the government gives them to farm. She also gave us some insight on evolution and reform of recent farm policy explaining that some incentives were needed to keep farmers in rural areas instead of searching for a higher style of life in the large cities.

On arrival to the AG Market we observed that it was unlike anything that we have seen inside the United States. The first building that we observed was the Meat: Pork/Seafood market. The first impression was quite disturbing to some as it seemed that they all had a general lack of food safety as we tend to know it in the US. The market was made up of a series of stores each trying to sell their product. Since the price is mainly set by the market, the vendors must rely on there marketing skills of trying to sell a higher premium product. The vendors and customers handled the meat very liberally with no use of gloves or any sense of sanitary concern. Another shocking observation was that the building where all this took place was not refrigerated.

The next stop at the Market was the Frozen Food market. It consisted of mainly poultry products and few seafood items. The general food safety considerations were very similar to that of the Pork Market.

Leaving the Frozen Food Market we wondered through the vegetable market on the way to meet with the Deputy Director of Marketing for this market. All the vegetables and fruits brought to this market were transported by truck. Each truck was completely filled to the brim with produce. Some off loaded there product directly on the ground surface and conducted their operations there.

After a nice welcome from Zhao Zhi Gang, the Deputy Director of Marketing, he explained to us the history of the market. It was founded in 1985 and has grown considerably since then. The Market is now the largest in Beijing (15 billion Yuan sales annually) and service some 8000 customers with 70% of the vege/fruit market share. The market has some 1800 employees, 600 of which are security officers. The market was cooperatively owned and similar to those of Oklahoma as no dividends were ever paid back.

When finished at the AG market we went to a Flower Seed Co. that was founded back in 1999 the owner, Cao Yu Mei welcomed the class. They were a very gracious host and our presence was fully documented by the company’s PR person. The products here were mainly flower seed products, but they did have some interesting seeds: the flower egg and the magic bean. This particular site had 800 different seeds and 30-40 workers. From the Seed Co. we made a short walk to a very nice Botanical Garden of which the Seed Co. has supplied some of the seed. It was a very nice venue with very large number of Wedding couples there taking pictures. I think that we all thought that was somewhat odd.

When finished with the Botanical Gardens we made a lengthy journey to the County East of Beijing where we visited Fu Hua Food and Meat Co. LTD. We were greeted with a very nice Traditional Chinese Hot Pot Lunch served at one of their many chain restaurants. The hot pot lunch was quite unique; it similar to but not the same as the American Fondue. Each person had the own pot with boiling spiced broth inside where we each cooked series of different things from tofu to rib eye to lamb. Once we all finished lunch it was out to the feed lot where we observed the feeding of livestock to be processed by Fu Hua. Mr. Liu Chun guided the class. The feed lot was different from those of the US as they had no mechanized means of operation. All the work was done by manual labor form the feeding to cleaning out of the pens. All the livestock was very tame and could all be lead. In fact all of the processed animals were lead to slaughter by a halter. The livestock was all fed corn silage with ground corn, wheat mids and soy meal added. All the manure was picked up by locals and either dried or used for fuel or used as crop fertilizer. They had a 500 head
capacity and slaughtered only 250 head per day and were mainly all bulls not steers or heifers.

We then all traveled back to Beijing for Dinner and the Chinese Opera. We ate at the hotel where the opera was held. The opera was at 7:30 and was very unique. It seemed to be a mixture of Art, Singing, Comedy, Kung Fu and Acrobatics. The music was the same throughout. It surprised me that it only lasted 1 hour, but I think that we were all tired and ready to go after it was over.

We then went back to our hotel for our last night in Beijing, China as we are off for Xian tomorrow afternoon.

 

February 21st - Beijing-Xian
Scribes: Cody White and Doug Ritter

Most of the class was exhausted again after another long day. Traveling wears you out, but the smog really started messing with our heads.

This morning we ate another "western style" breakfast at the hotel in Beijing that was very good. After checking out of the hotel, as we were leaving in the tour bus, a Chinese woman in a small car with Pooh Bear seat covers tried to pass us on the left as we were making a 90 degree left turn around a concrete wall in the hotel driveway. The driver sandwiched the car in between the bus and the wall. It didn't do too much damage to either vehicle, but both drivers were mad and yelling at each other (even though it was the woman's fault). We were actually amazed that this didn't happen sooner from watching the crazy drivers in Beijing.

After the excitement we were dropped off at the Tong Ren Tang Pharmacy for our first stop. The pharmacy is like a clinic/pharmacy and has been operating since one of the Dynasties. It was previously only for elite government officials and has been open to the public for two years. One of the doctors gave us an acupuncture demonstration on himself and then gave a lecture on traditional Chinese medicine. One of the points made was that western hospitals tend to treat symptoms more and herbal Chinese medicine attempts to treat the source of the problem (inside the body). The doctor noted how well organized and complicated the human body is, "much more complicated than a computer.

After the lecture, a whole team of doctors came in and sat down with each of us to check our pulses, look at our tongues, and give us their assessment and recommendations. The doctors made expensive herbal recommendations (prescriptions) for each class member, and many in the class took them up on it.

Quote of the day: "If you never lose a bike in Beijing, you are not a true Beijinger!” Su Lin, our tour guide. (In route to lunch) She also mentioned that you can see people walking on sidewalks holding cages (they are walking their birds).

Our lunch was yet another traditional Chinese meal with what appeared to be the exact same food we have been eating every day except this time we named one of the dishes "Bloomin' Fish" because it looked just like "bloomin' onion" except it had a fish head on one end and tail on the other. The meal also included homemade potato chips with garlic and red chili peppers. Many of us are starting to miss American food now. Some of us bought chocolate ice cream bars after the meal for 10 Yuan.

After lunch we went to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences to see a presentation by Dr. Gong Xifeng, Deputy Director General, and Department of International Cooperation. This was a typical government presentation of the state of agriculture in China. The five areas they covered were:

  1. The Status of Agriculture in China
  2. Research Achievements
  3. Challenges
  4. Strategies
  5. Priorities for future research.

According to the presenter, the agriculture production has increased eightfold over the past 30 years. A typical farmer now makes the equivalent of $800 per year. Their research achievements are along the same lines as those of American agricultural scientists such as cloning and manipulating germ plasms. Challenges mentioned include increasing of the population overall and decreasing of arable lands. Even with a 40% farmland degradation rate, they still have a goal of a 95% self-reliance on production. He talked about an extension network to communicate technology down to the village level. We were given an estimate of 70% of the Chinese population that is still involved in farming, though that is rapidly decreasing as people move to the cities. Strategies include an effort toward vertical integration.

Next we visited a farm equipment manufacturer "MAE Northern" that is owned by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization Services. They make and sell many types of farm implements from silage cutters to potato harvesters to rice harvesters. Cindy Wang, the International Sales Manager was our speaker. Many of the component parts are imported from various countries. The oil and hydraulic fluids had been imported from the U.S. from John Deere. A no till Drill cost approximately $28,000 USD. When asked how the poor Chinese farmers afford their equipment, she said there is a 30% government subsidy and the remaining 70% can be financed with a bank loan over eight years. One village will own a tractor, the next village will own a drill, and they will share it back and forth.

The last tourist stop of the day was a Hutong tour of peasant life in Beijing riding on rickshaws. A rickshaw is a human-powered tricycle with a two-person carriage on the back. Most of the class paid approximately $25 USD for the one-hour tour. The class was hoping for an authentic experience, but even this area of Beijing was saturated with peddlers pestering the tourists hoping to make a sale of just about anything. Many class members were very intrigued and thankful for the experience. Six of the class members took a walk down the Lotus Strip of bars and stores, and paused for a break at Starbucks. After fighting off the street peddlers, the two groups met and boarded the bus.

After the tourist stop, we stopped at another restaurant for more rice (another 9-course Chinese tourist meal) and then headed for the airport. With minimal problems, we caught a flight to Xian where we were met by our local guide, Linda and checked into our hotel.

After checking in, we caught a glimpse of the city from the 20th floor of the hotel. This was the last night of the Spring Festival celebrating the Chinese New Year, which has lasted for several weeks. Fireworks were everywhere.

 

February 22nd - Xian
Scribes: Tim Bartram and Ted Graham

The group left the hotel at 9:30 minus one down for the count. Edmond Bonjour was ailing today. Our guide Linda gave us more information on the Xian area. Some of the tidbits included the fact that all of China operates on the same time as Beijing but the official observatory that sets the time is in Xian. She then gave us information on the color of the soils in China with the far NE having black soils. The Xian area has yellow soils which gives the yellow river its name. There is blue soil in the south west and white due to sand in the SW.

We then arrived at the city wall of Xian. This is the last city wall left in the China. It was built over 600 years ago. It was 12 meters tall 15 meters thick with 98 watch towers and 4 gates. We spent an hour exploring the wall. Some of the group rented bicycles or rode in golf carts while other just walked. There were excellent examples of ancient siege weapons on display. Another interesting site there was the migrant labor lining up to find work. The tools they carried showed the skills. Some carried paint rollers will others carried hand saws.

We then went through the eastern shopping district to down town. There in the center of town was the bell and drum towers. While waiting for lunch we had the opportunity to go through the shops located there. On of the group escaped from an attempted pick pocking when the thief dropped his camera. Some of the group went to McDonalds for a quick taste of America and to look at the menu which had many different but some familiar. One example was the option to get corn instead of fries with the value meals. Few took the chance to visit the super Wal-Mart. Again there were some familiar sites but many not so familiar. Our lunch was hot pots with some different ingredients than Beijing. The rolls were the best we had have had on the trip.

After lunch we drove up Bill Clinton Street and went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This is still a working Buddhist temple. The Pagoda was built in 652 AD. The size was very impressive. Much of the other art work was very beautiful as well. Here we again ran into the very aggressive sales people again.

The evening was culminated by dinner at the local hotel for Xian is famous, the eighteen dumpling dinner of which included all traditional foods stuffed into a dumpling. The dumplings were then followed by the soup of which included small dumplings for which when served by the waitress explained if you had a certain numbers of dumplings in your bowl you would have good luck. If you had none thought you had no worries. The meal was very good, filled with tradition and the chef gave excellent presentations with the dumplings. The meal was followed by the crown jewel of the evening with a traditional play that represented by the Tong dynasty. The presentation of the feather dance and the ribbon dance was exceptional. The musical was very well done with the flute being my personal favorite. The culture and heritage presented through out the day was very impressive and the play making for excellent day of history and heritage of the city Xian and China.

 

February 23rd - Xian
Scribes: Curtis Vap and Summer Kemp

We started the morning with a hearty breakfast that served both western and eastern style foods on the 3rd floor. Then we met up in the lobby to divvy up postcards for our sponsors back home.

We jumped on the bus and headed 80 km west to YangLing; the hub of Northern China’s agricultural development. It was here that we visited Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University and the National Agriculture High Tech Industry Demonstration Zone. We were greeted by Dr. Qiow Wenjun, Deputy Director of the International Cooperation and Exchange for the school. NW A & F has seven campuses, two of which are for the education of students. The others are demonstration and research facilities only. 25,000 students attend the university in over 200 undergrad and graduate programs. The university also has conducted international cooperative projects with 66 institutions around the world.

After an overview by Dr Qiao, a five-professor panel was available for questions. Dr. Yan, Dr. Chang and Dr. Tsan were from the animal science department. Dr. Chong joined us from wheat breeding and Dr. Cong from economics.

Wendell Custer asked about beef production in the region. He was told there were three million beef cattle in the Shaan Xi province and 550,000 diary cattle. Cattle use to be used for labor but now mainly are used for beef and what little dairy production the country has.

Tammi Didlot asked about the university’s work with animal cloning. Researchers were successful in cloning a goat. They had also tried cloning pigs and sheep but Tammi was told that as of yet they had not been successful in cloning any other species.

Dr. Trapp asked about farm size and production. He was told most farmers in China are poor and that many farmers are moving to the cities for work. Farmers do not own their land but do have usage rights. The government encourages farmers leaving the land to transfer their usage rights to other farmers.

Joe Locke asked if livestock will have to be given growth promotants to offset feed costs. He was told crop production was mainly for human food and that livestock was fed crop residue.

Francie Tolle asked what the requirements were to get into the university. She was told an entry examination must be taken and passed. Entry into the school was very competitive.

Ted Graham asked if the university if the university did research or helped in making markets more available to farmers. He was told farmers used local associations to make contact with buyers. Also they cooperated with local processors.

Galynn Beer asked if farmers soil tested and who analyzed the tests. He was told soil tests were done by the government. They require these soil tests so crop decisions could be made. In more recent years, farmers are becoming more aware of their own test results.

Dr. Williams asked if student characteristics had changed overtime. He was told in the 1980’s students were different than current students. In the 80’s students were supported by the government and knew what job they would have after finishing school. Therefore, they could focus more on their field of study. Current students look at more areas.

Tim Bartram asked if they genetically modified wheat research was being conducted. He was told there was work being done on GMO wheat.

Curtis Vap asked what annual rainfall was in the area. He was told the Xian region was a semi-dry region and received around 400 mm per year.

Jean Williams asked how many professors at the university came from farming backgrounds. She was told 70-80% are originally from the countryside.
Summer Kemp asked if the university had facilities for mushroom research and was told that a small laboratory existed on one of their campuses that conducted “greenhouse” or hoop-house, research. Arrangements to visit the demonstration were later attempted, but did not happen.

Ron Hayes asked what types of wheat they were breeding and what traits they were seeing. He was told the wheat breeders were looking at hybrid wheats and at a super” wheat much like super rice.

Pat Regier asked if the university research in wine making used grapes or other ingredients and if wine was a luxury item. She was told that wine is not a traditionally used product but that it was becoming more popular. Traditionally, harder liquors have been consumed more.

Edmond Bonjour asked what pest was most important in wheat, in the field and in storage. He was not given a specific insect but was told that pollution may be their most difficult obstacle. Pesticides are used in research but farmers may not necessarily have financial or legal access to their use.

After lunch the class followed Dr. Qiao to tour the National Agriculture High Tech Industry Demonstration Zone. There are 10 high tech development parks in China but the one in Yang Ling is the only one focusing on agriculture. The location was chosen for historic reasons; early Chinese farming began in this area.

The first stop was a greenhouse demonstration area. Flowers and vegetables were grown there including lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and radishes; and fruits including papaya were seen in some smaller houses.

We made an unscheduled stop to visit with some farmers that we saw from the bus on the side of the high way. We discussed soil type, what they were doing, fence type and the palm trees they were planting.

The next stop was the Yang Ling Ke Yuan Clone., LTD. This farm is a joint venture between the university and the area farmers. The class was met by Gao Yufei, farm manager. The zone harbored 1000 dairy cows with 300 milking, 300 beef cattle and 1800 sheep and goats. Holstein, Red Angus, Polled Dorset, Saanen and Boer breeds of livestock are raised on the farm. The farm is mostly a confinement operation because of limited available land. Hay and silage are fed to the animals. Imported genetics from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are present in the farms animals. Work in cloning and embryo transfer is also done at the farm. Milking and feeding activities were viewed by the class while touring the farm.

Mr. Qiao arranged for us to stop at local farming village to see what country living is like. This was also, in a way, a demonstration zone where Chinese tourists from the city could get away and work with the land. It’s one of China’s forms of agritourism. The village was set up apartment style; each family unit having a small courtyard and two rooms branching from there.

Next we visited a dairy processing plant. Our tour guide was Yang Jin Min. Though their production was done for the day, we got to see the facilities they use and discuss the different kinds of milk they provide. We divided into two groups, suited up in hairnets, booties and smocks and passed through infrared lights before entering the plant. The plant sells “pure” or whole milk, yogurt and other finished products along with supplying to a local ice cream processing plant. They also radiate some product for a longer shelf life.

Finally, we returned to the hotel and had traditional Chinese meal… this time, with french-fries.

 

February 24th - Xian
Scribes: Wendell Custer and Thad Doye 

Breakfast at hotel then the group proceeded east of Xian in a nice snow event. We went to the hot springs where Chang Chi Check lived and died. The hot springs were also where the Tang dynasty Imperial family was buried. The hot springs flow from a near by mountain and provided natural baths for the families of the Tang dynasty.

During the trip Linda (tour guide) gave us a brief history of her family. She discussed her daughter attempting to get into college and her husband works for the government in the area of religious liaison. She also mentioned that she had grown up in a factory area and had learned many things from us and the visits that we made about rural farm life and businesses surrounding it. Linda also told us that the construction crane was the national bird of China.

We turned north from the springs to the tomb of Qin Sichuan which is guarded by an army of 8,000 Terra-cotta soldiers. Qin Shihuang was the first emperor to unify China. He had this amazing work built to protect his dynasty in his after life.

The soldiers were discovered in 1974 when farmers in the area were digging a water well. Archeologists were called to the site and excavation started and continues to this day. The site is a national museum with 180 sites in 56 square kilometers.

The museum is built around three dig sites. The soldiers in the digs are arranged in battle formation with different ranking soldiers in different places. Dig 1 contains the most warriors with it being the infantry. Dig 2 is filled with cavalry and chariots. Dig 3 was the command post with officers and the emperor. The dig site had two brass chariots which are thought to be the biggest works of bronze in the world.

All the warriors were hollow bodied with solid arms and legs. They were brightly painted at one time but time had taken its toll. Each soldier was completely outfitted with weaponry and their own facial expressions. The tomb was built 35 feet below ground and took 4 decades to build by 700,000 workers.

The museum behind the class we boarded our 6th plane to go to Shang Hai.

 

February 25th – Shanghai and Seoul
Scribes: Bill Farris and Julie Fitzgerald

After a buffet breakfast at our hotel, we boarded the charter bus in a drizzling rain. This is the first day of our excursion in Shanghai; we have not yet been greeted with smog.

U.S. Agricultural Trade Office
We arrive at the Chinese International Café at 9:40a.m. and proceed to the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office of Shanghai. We were greeted by Wayne Batwin, Director of the Agricultural Trade Office at FAS.

Mr. Batwin tells us China Ag imports are about $40 billion of which $9.4 billion are U.S. products. Mr. Batwin believes there is opportunity for consumer oriented, ready processed food products in China. This is in part due to a growing middle class and a younger generation that is enjoying increased income.

The Chinese are willing to spend more on food, health concerns and travel.

The gray market (smuggling) appears to be declining as direct access to goods becomes more available. Retail consolidation will create volume sales opportunities and the 2nd and 3rd tier cities have great untapped potential.
Packaging of new products and promotion are important because the Chinese fear losing their national identity and simply do not know what to do with some new products.

The ATO plans to open offices in other areas to help trade groups to promote U.S. products in China.
Matt Weimer, U.S. Wheat Associates, tells us China is the fastest growing major economy with rural areas becoming more urban and rural wages have tripled in the last three years. The freight cost for U.S. wheat imports are prohibitive. There is a large demand for hard white wheat in all of Asia.

Fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut are experiencing growth in China.
Dr. Ben Rossignol, Shiyaao Investments Ltd., tells the class pork is the main consumed meat in China with beef at 5.35% of total meat consumption. Australia and New Zealand are the main exporters of beef to China. There are three forms of beef consumption in China – frozen, fresh (consumed within eight hours) and chilled.

Chicken consumption averages 15.72%. Wet markets are still the main distributors of meat at this time but the Chinese Govt. is putting pressure on these markets for reasons of food safety. Food safety and traceability are major concerns of the China government.

China needs improved livestock genetics, equipment. There appears to be opportunities for beef and dairy producers. China is the largest aquaculture producer in the world but water quality may create problems for exports.

NanYang Experimental Kindergarten
Our next stop was the NanYang Experimental Kindergarten where the group passed out gifts to a group of very excited children. The school was established in 1954 by the Chinese government. There are 350 children that currently attend the school. Their school hours are from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The age range of the children is 3-6 years old.

Temple of the Jade Buddha
Next we spent a little time at the Temple of the Jade Buddha admiring statues, artwork and tapestry’s.

Lunch

The Bund
After lunch, we moved to the Huang Pu District, which was a business district built by the British in the 1930s. From the bank of the Hung Pu River, we could view the new bank and finance district across the river.

Nanjing Road
We spent time exploring this infamous shopping district. There were many good purchases made and local scenery admired.

JuLong Silk Exhibition Hall
At this stop we were able to learn how silk material is produced and we also observed the process in making a silk quilt. Many class members purchased quilts, pillows, shirts and scarves of silk at this stop

Dinner
Our final dinner in Shanghai was quite enjoyable. HQ surprised us with Pizza Hut pizza and a variety of other local delicacies. A good time was had by all!!

 

February 26th – Shanghai and Seoul
Scribes: Kevin Long and Brenda Neufeld

We started the day with an introduction to an Agricultural Development Zone by Yao Yongkang, General Manager of the facility. The following was a statement as we entered their research facility that summarized their purpose and goals.

Shanghai Sunqiao Modern Agricultural Development Area was established in September 1994. Since then, according to the function of “two bridges” (one is to link foreign advanced agriculture sci-tech to Chinese agriculture, another is to transfer traditional agriculture into modern agriculture), modern greenhouse facilities and advanced foreign technology have been introduced. The zone basically formed six principal industries: seeds and seedlings production, facility agriculture, comprehensive processing of agricultural products, factory production biotechnology, agriculture sight-seeing and education in popular science.
The zone is selected as one of the 21 national agriculture sci-tech zones, a base for demonstration and popularization of introduced foreign talent achievements etc., and is authenticated by ISO14001 Environmental Administration System. Brand “Sunqiao” is granted as Shanghai famous trademark. Now, the zone has more than 50 enterprises, some of which are authenticated by ISO9001 Quality Administration System and HACCP Administration System as well. They have undertaken 66 scientific and research projects at national, municipal or district levels, and have been granted 6 patents, which has remarkably strengthened zone’s ability of innovation in scientific research. The zone has built many vegetable production bases and seen propagation bases in the whole country up to 2,000 hectares.
In the period of “Eleventh Five plan”, to create a plant orm for production education and research, the zone will build two centers: one is modern agriculture demonstration and exchange center; another is agriculture sci-tech and management training center, aiming at serving the whole nation and keeping pace with the world advancement.

This was followed by a time of questions and answers. They get their information out to farmers through agricultural parks like this all across China. There are a couple of American companies involved here at this facility, one which in involved in aquaculture. They are using technology from Holland to work on their water quality issues. The most common plants grown here are peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. They export these crops as well as mushrooms to Japan. To increase production they have replaced some higher imported components with lower cost domestic products for their farmers. No livestock production is allowed in this area of the outer ring road of Shanghai so all of their work is focused on plant production. There is no gene research being done here. They are interested in learning about using auctions, but have not implemented them yet. Their greatest challenge is close competition and creating a favorable environment for their farmers.

After this introduction we received a tour of their greenhouse facilities by Zhou Zhijiang, Vice General Manager. They had two different types of greenhouses here one they described as a “Holland Greenhouse” and the other was a “Domestic Greenhouse”. They also have a “seedling factory” which we would call a plug producer. Many of these plants are exported to Japan. There are now several hundred of these agricultural parks around China, but this was the first one developed in China. One of the main purposes of this facility is to do research and develop new techniques to pass along to the farmers in order to produce higher yields and increase profits. They have been very effective in this by having farmers bring their seeds to the facility and start seedlings for them that the farmers then in turn buy back at a subsidized rate and have increased their production rates by 20%.

Following the tour of this facility we boarded the plane and had an uneventful trip to Incheon Airport in Seoul, Korea. We had a traditional Korean meal at Geo Gu Jang seated on cushions at a short legged table.

Anne Kim is our new tour guide. She gave us some history and back ground on Korea as we traveled in the bus. There are 48 million people live in South Korea. They just had the inauguration of their president yesterday. The president serves a 5 year term and can only serve one term. The area is mountainous and lots of rivers and islands make up the landscape. Seoul is a very modern city since 80% of the city was destroyed during the Korean War and has all been rebuilt since then.

Following dinner Jin S. Kim gave us a warm welcome to Korea. He has worked for the State of Oklahoma in the past trying to promote trade. He gave us some pointers on negotiating trade in a foreign country. Every country tends to accept their customs as the norm, but we need to learn and understand the customs of those we are dealing with also. This takes patience and understanding to be effective. It is a challenge to met customers expectations; keep up with technology changes and stay connected to networks of people that keep your product what you want it to be in a foreign market.

We are excited to discover what Korea has to teach us in the short time we are here to learn.

 

February 27th - Seoul
Co-Scribes: Pat Regier and Jean Williams

The morning of our final full day of our international experience began with a delicious multi-cultural breakfast buffet at our Hotel in Seoul. We loaded the bus and started the day, only to have to return to the Hotel to retrieve a forgotten passport. The bus driver parked on the sidewalk instead of the driveway for this quick stop. Parking on the sidewalk is very normal in both S. Korea and China. We started again for the American Embassy located in North Seoul, which is considered the old part of Seoul. Our hotel is located in South Seoul. According to our guide, the weather was colder than usual. In 1994, Seoul celebrated its 600-year anniversary. Many of the buildings in North Seoul have been destroyed due to numerous invasions throughout the years. South Korean people are not able to contact family members located in North Korea. If they do attempt to contact family in North Korea they will be imprisoned. Many of the South Koreans will hire Chinese people to contact their friends and family members, but it is very dangerous to do so. At one point we drove past a long line of people, about 2 city blocks, waiting to obtain U.S. Visas. There was a large American presence in Seoul as we saw many traditional Retailers for food and products.

Upon arrival at the U.S. Trade Office there was no security check nor were passports required for entrance. This was a noticeable difference compared to some of the places we have visited in the U.S. We were treated to cold water provided by Mr. Jin S. Kim, formerly of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The cold water was a great treat as most water, when we could obtain it, had been room temperature on the trip.

We were greeted by Stan Phillips, the Agriculture Trade Office Director, (ATO) who graduated from Montana State University. Also present was Lee Anna McNally who is an intern from Oklahoma State University. Mr. Phillips talked about the ATO having a marketing and promotion office. The ATO works closely with various trade organizations such as the Wheat Growers, Cattleman’s Association, etc. because the trade associations are the people with the money. He mentioned that there is a small amount of trade going from South Korea to the United States, primarily for use by the Korean Americans.

Michael Frankom, Agricultural Attaché, was our next presenter. He informed us that South Korea is Asia’s third largest economy, behind China and Japan. He reviewed the economic growth and forecasts of South Korea. The newly inaugurated President of South Korea pledges seven percent economic growth. Further, the new President said, “agriculture should no longer be considered a primary industry.” The President plans to strengthen economic ties with the United States, Japan and China. The National Assembly elections will take place on April 9th and Mr. Frankom does not anticipate any political changes prior to that time.

There are fifty million people in Korea, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world with rapid urbanization occurring. The birth rate is 1.1 children per woman, which will cause the population to fall, shrink the workforce and the number of retired people will increase.

Agriculture is three percent of the GDP and is expected to decline. Sixty percent of the farmers are over age 60 and the number of farms is declining. Farmers are actively protesting against market liberalization. Their main crops are rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit, livestock, poultry and fish. Eighty percent of the farms plant one-half of their land to rice. In 2007, South Korea imported 3.8 billion in agriculture products from the United States, which is twenty percent of their agriculture imports. Import restrictions and government support payments keep retail agriculture prices up. Beef costs five to six times higher than U.S. beef; rice is three to four times higher than U.S. rice. South Korea’s main imports are coarse grains, hides, wheat and meat. The United States is the number one supplier of pork. In 2003 U.S. beef had 70% of the market but in 2007, only 7% of market due to the ban. Australia has 70% of the beef market and New Zealand 20% at this time.

South Korea has a heavy dependence on imported grain, especially corn. Seventy percent of their feed ration is grain based. With international grain prices high, the retail meat prices are high. The government and industry are cooperating to offset the rising prices. The main United States competitor for grain is China but they are out of grain so it is estimated that the U.S. will get 90% of the market share. The main competitor for U.S. wheat is Australia. The United States exported 1.2 million metric ton of wheat to South Korea, which is 50% of the market share, and this amount could rise due to the recent drought in Australia.

The South Korean consumer has an interest in trace ability in a variety of products. The South Korean meat product identifies the farm and shows a picture of the farmer on the meat packages. South Korea is the fifth largest market for United States imports. Some concerns to be addressed here in the United States are trace ability, surveillance and feed (no ruminant by products to non-ruminant animals).

Our next presenter for the morning was Dr. Won Bang Koh, Director of the U.S. Wheat Association/Seoul. After finding out how many wheat farmers were in the Class, he jokingly asked for double the time. He shared that last year South Korea paid $200/metric ton for wheat and this year it will be $800/metric ton. S. Korean consumption of wheat is different from other countries as they eat wheat-based noodles instead of rice-based noodles. The use of wheat flour is 37.3% for making noodles, 13.6% for bakery, 9.4% for confectionary, 8% for restaurant, 7.7% for home use, 6.4% for feed, 5.8% for export, 3.9% for soy sauce, 1.5% for brewery, and 1.3% for industrial use.

Hard Red Summer, Hard Red Winter and Soft Winter Wheat are all in demand. They are all shipped to South Korea through Portland, Oregon so they purchase Montana wheat. It costs too many dollars to ship wheat from Oklahoma to Portland. In 1980, the U.S. had 100% of the market share. In 1990 we had 85% and by 2007 we were at 50%. It is projected that in 2008 we will increase to 60%, sharing the market with Australia at 35% and Canada at 3%. This increase is due to the drought in Australia.

The functional quality of the wheat is important for the properties desired in the noodles, which have to do with ash, color and starch. U. S. wheat has more of a browning reaction instead of a creamy yellow color. The U.S. thinks more about protein for bread and pasta while Asia is more interested in starch for texture and short cooking times for the noodles. Therefore the hard white is a better product for the end user. The U.S. needs to meet the demand because we have two competitors. Safety is a big issue to the Koreans. They check for 105 different kinds of chemicals. They do not understand genetically modified wheat.

Jieun (Elly) Sung of the U. S. Meat Export Federation/Seoul was our final presenter for the morning. The Meat Export Federation opened in 1991 working with retailers, food service, trade organizations, government and consumer education. Hanwoo beef is the South Korean native cattle. Han means Korean and Woo means cattle. The cattle have brown hair and are harvested between 500 and 600 kilograms. The meat is the best quality, has high marbling, is quite tasty and is very expensive. South Korea’s top beef imports are short ribs, loin and clod. The short rib is consumed year round and is the best cut for Korean cuisine. Two-thirds of the restaurants surveyed want U.S. beef. They prefer grain fed to grass fed beef. South American countries have many diseases to contend with. The SRM’s are a big deal. The constant errors in U.S. processors shipping bone particles are a problem. It won’t be easy to regain our market share from Australia, because they are feeding more grain to beef. South Koreans are concerned with food safety issues. Consumers are tired of issues and react to them when they appear in the Press.

Seventy percent of the food is imported. Beef from dairy cattle is not sold in South Korea. The South Koreans are trying to control milk production. Due to lack of pastures, most cattle are kept in barns and fed corn all their lives. The average farmer raises eleven head of cattle. This includes the mom and pop operations and the commercial farms, which have up to 100 head. The commercial farms are where the bulk of the beef is supplied.

RFID is mainly used on the Han woo cattle. The ID system in place in South Korea was implemented on a trial basis in 2004. In 2008 mandatory implementation will begin. Fruits have the producer’s name and picture within the bar code system. They are very proud of their products.

During the question and answer period involving all of the presenters and hosts, we learned that there is no mechanization in China. South Korea has a small rice harvester. The machine is very intricate and does not get stuck. Many farmers share the use of the same harvester and/or hire custom cutters.

There is a lack of confidence in the public school system in South Korea. Most high school students must be at school at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 4:30 p.m. and then go to a private institution until 11:00 to 12:00 for additional tutoring. This practice goes on six days a week, 12 months a year. The cost for the additional training is $2,500.00 per month per child. College tuition is $1,000.00/month so the parents are relieved when their children graduate from High School.

After this briefing session we took a brisk walk to a buffet restaurant where we were offered a wide variety of foods. It appeared that Korean cuisine more closely resembles what we are served in American Chinese Restaurants. During lunch, Teresa Pilgreen joined us. Her husband is stationed in South Korea and she is a friend to our Tour Guide. Teresa and her husband both were raised in the Waurika, Oklahoma area and are both OSU graduates.

After a delicious lunch, we boarded the bus to move on to the National Agriculture Cooperative Federation (NACF). Along the way we stopped outside The Blue House, which is the Presidential residence, for a photo opportunity. During the drive, it was evident that pedestrians have the right-of-way in S. Korea, as opposed to China where you must always cross at a light or you are in danger of physical harm.

Upon arrival at the NACF, we passed a ceremony in a courtyard. Later we found that it was a dedication of a new building. Mr. Esik Kim, Senior Manager for the International Cooperation Department, NACF spoke to us through an interpreter. After listening the Chinese interpreters for ten days, it was difficult to adjust to the Korean accent to the English language. Fortunately they provided excellent written material for us to refer to and be able to grasp the concept of the Cooperative, which is enormous.

The NACF was started in 1961. After a bumpy start, the NACF had developed subsidiaries to assist the agriculture community. They supply credit services, materials and inputs for the farmers, marketing services, educational services, insurance and retail services. Ninety percent of the farmers have joined the NACF or 3.3 million farmers representing 6.8 percent of the population. The Cooperative has a direct election system. The NACF has the largest livestock market. They have an innovative distribution system for the farmer’s products. The bank is 100% Korean and is one of the top banks and is the larges in South Korea with over 5,000 branches. The NACF provides consulting and technology education for free. They provide low cost or no cost inputs. The also provide medical services and scholarships. NACF represents 3.5 million farmers at the WTO.

The NACF has started an “I love the farm” campaign to educate the urbanites. The company works together to solve problems. They have had to build trust with the farmers and South Koreans - working in harmony to reach their destination. Spreading hope, harvesting happiness.

The NACF is a multi-purpose cooperation that does almost everything for farmers. NACF lobby’s the government for farmers. The average farmer makes $20,000/year U.S. Dollars. They are 27% self-sufficient. The rest of the products are imported from China.

The NACF banking customers trust the cooperative. NACF uses the synergy effect. Due to the profits there is more banking than marketing today in the NACF. The regular banks cannot have a branch within 500 meters of the cooperative. In 1990 the cooperative established a supermarket, which has 7% of the market share.

Most consumers don’t care, are not aware of, nor sensitive to GMO products. The farmers are not interested in research because it is not promoted. The NACF prioritizes lobbying the government.

There are very few children, no hospitals, no theater, etc. in the rural areas. The NACF is working to “save rural areas”. The NACF is working to educate young farmers with scholarships, student farmer dorm in Seoul, picture and song contest to promote farmers. They also provide low interest agricultural loans. The cooperative members participate in the profits.

An interesting comparison to the U.S. culture is that the NACF established their banks and then expanded to add supermarkets in their banks to provide one-stop shopping for their cooperators. In America, the retailer establishes its presence and then brings in a branch bank for convenience.

Following the verbal presentation, the NACF representatives were excited to have a group picture taken with their Manager. Many assistants hustled to make things happen. There was a videographer present, which may have been from a TV station.

Next we were treated to a tour of The Museum of Agriculture, which is owned and operated by the NACF. There were three levels of Exhibition Halls. The first for Agricultural History, the second for Agricultural Life and the last showed the various projects being carried out by the Cooperative on behalf of the agricultural and general population, including production processes. The displays were high quality and very impressive. There was an Agricultural Classroom and we saw many children taking in the displays. They use the Museum to educate the urban people about agriculture in South Korea.

Our scheduled activities ended at 4:00 p.m. and we were free to explore the City. Several people went to the shops on the streets and in the subway. It was very noticeable how many more people started showing up in the streets as the evening got later. Many clothing articles were available for purchase, including an OSU Cowboys T-shirt that was crudely translated. Prices were not cheap like they were in China. Some Class Members went to local restaurants, the Hard Rock Café, and a large contingent of hungry men elected to go to the Outback for a beef steak, even though it was Australian. Word is that one particular Class Member “drank” a bowl of Ranch Dressing since he was starting to go through withdrawal. Three women went on an Adventure Eating Excursion, taking in the street vendors’ offerings. This included a wide variety of unknown sea creatures, chicken-on-a-stick, unusual pancakes that were blue in color and stuffed with a sweet filling, roasted water chestnuts, little pancake batter balls, and pizza in a cone. Although the Vendors could not speak English, they were very gracious hosts and showed us how to eat the various products they had to offer. Customers stood inside the Vendor’s tents to eat their meal, rather than taking their food to go like Americans do. The chicken-on-a-stick was prepared with great flare and was the favored meat dish. The stuffed pancakes were outstanding. Later in the evening several of us enjoyed the American Rock and Roll played by a very talented Pilipino band at our Hotel. We weren’t sure if they knew where Oklahoma was, but they played many of our requests, showed their adoration for our State and we all entertained one another as we wrapped up our final night overseas.

 

February 28th – Back to America
Scribes: Galynn Beer and Dale Lemmond

Some free time and last minute shopping took place prior to our 11:30 am departure for the airport. On the way to the airport, we stopped at an amethyst jewelry store where many classmates left some of their remaining money to purchase gifts for loved ones back home or some (of the selfish ones) purchases stuff for themselves. We arrived at Incheon Airport on time, most of us with more than we came with. Check-in went smoothly. It was an amazing trip home in that all flights went on time and everyone made it home with out complications. The only problem seemed to be a conspiracy against the only Sooner grad in the class, your truly, who seemed to be ‘randomly’ picked for everything from getting bags searched to just short of a body cavity search at customs in LAX, where the agent made me power up my camera so he could look at my pictures and also asked where the pictures of the ‘women’ I saw in Asia were. I’m not quite sure what he was meaning with that.

We did synthesize and do graduation planning in LA, where a small contingent took on responsibility of accumulating the huge amount of photos we took, sorting through them and making a DVD of our OALP Class XIII experience for graduation and 6 class members will narrate the DVD.

After the meeting the Tulsa group broke off and flew to Denver without any problems. We had a long layover in Denver and were allowed to leave some of our money there. The plane landed in Tulsa at 12:30 AM Friday morning, where some were met by family and all were happy to be home.

A great and smooth ending to a fantastic trip where much was learned and experiences had that will stretch our capabilities as leaders. Most will get to demonstrate this soon with many getting requests for presentations on their experience in China/S. Korea.