South Korea's farmland area contracted 2.1 percent in 2016 from a year earlier due to construction of buildings and other facilities, government data showed Friday.
The total area of South Korea's rice paddies and fields came to 1.64 million hectares -- about half the size of Maryland -- in 2016, compared with 1.68 million hectares in 2015, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
South Korea's farmland accounted for 16.4 percent of the country's total land areas in 2016, down from 16.7 percent in the previous year.
The decline in farmland came amid a chronic supply glut of rice and dwindling rice consumption in South Korea.
For decades, rice consumption of South Koreans has been declining steadily due mainly to changes in diet and eating habits.
Per capita, rice consumption reached 62.9 kilograms per year in 2015, down from the 128.1 kilograms tallied in 1985, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea. (Yonhap)