The size of rice paddies in South Korea continued to shrink this year as demand declined and farmers shifted to grow more profitable crops, a government report showed Tuesday. The size of rice paddies came to 832,625 hectares this year, down 1.9 percent from 849,172 hectares a year earlier, according to the report by Statistics Korea. This figure compares with about 1 million hectares of rice paddies tallied in 2004, the report showed. The decline is attributable to falling demand, shrinking farmland caused by construction and farmers moving to grow crops more profitable than rice, the report said. Declining rice paddies and falling demand led to less rice production. Last year, South Korea produced about 4 million tons of rice, down from 4.22 million tons tallied a year earlier, the report showed. The figure for 2013 will come out in October, a statistics agency official said. Rice remains one of South Koreans\' main staple crops, but its demand has been on the decline over the past decade as a growing number of people opt for westernized foods and other alternative diets for their daily meals.