Almost half of the South Korean farmers were aged 65 or higher last year as younger people continued to leave rural areas amid the aging population, statistical office data showed Monday. The number of farmers aged 65 or higher was 1,078,000 in 2022, accounting for 49.8 percent of the total population in the agricultural sector, according to Statistics Korea. The percentage of elderly farmers was up from 46.8 percent in 2021 and far higher than 18.0 percent which was the proportion of the total elderly population in 2022. Farmers in their 70s or older marked the highest proportion of 34.9 percent in the age group last year, followed by those in their 60s with 30.2 percent and those in their 50s with 15.8 percent. The number of farmers totaled 2,166,000 in 2022, down 2.3 percent from the previous year. The number of farming households fell 0.8 percent to 1,023,000 last year as more farmers gave up on farming due to old age. The number of fishing population diminished by 3.2 percent to 90,800 in 2022, while the number of fishing households slipped by 1.8 percent to 42,500.The proportion of those aged 65 or higher in the fishing sector gained 3.7 percentage points from a year earlier to 44.2 percent in 2022. The proportion of the elderly in the forestry sector increased by 4.7 percentage points to 48.8 percent.