Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

Potato prices falling

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

Potato prices are declining in many areas of North Korea as a result of the first new potatoes of the season arriving on the market. In North Korea, new potatoes are planted at the end of March or beginning of April, depending on the climate that year, and are harvested in the middle of June.

Until the end of last month, a kilo of potatoes cost 800KPW (North Korean won) in public markets, but prices have since fallen by half.

“Because it is hard to survive solely on grains such as rice and corn here, demand for potatoes is high,” a Yangkang Province source told Daily NK on the 23rd. “The current decline in potato prices will slightly lessen the burden for those people who constantly worry about their food supply.”

In addition, “Rice and corn prices are on the increase when compared to last month, whereas potato prices are declining in most regions, including Pyongyang, Pyongsung, Chongjin and Hyesan,” the source added.

According to the source, some of the new potatoes are distributed to farming households, while others go onto the market where they are bartered for fertilizer to be used for other crops later in the season. The current declining price reflects the fact that most people prefer to sell new potatoes rather than store them, because they go bad more rapidly than old potatoes, which are planted in the spring and harvested in the autumn.

“A lot of people are relieved that potatoes are getting cheaper,” the source said. “This spring rice fell to 4,000KPW per kilo but then rose again. This seems to have pushed people into stocking up on food.”

New potatoes have long been cultivated as a main staple in colder regions of North Korea, particularly Yangkang and North Hamkyung provinces. However, during and after the ‘Arduous March’ (the North Korean famine of 1994-1998), southerly regions also began to plant them to help ameliorate chronic food shortages.

“In some regions the potato harvest started last week so farm workers are able to breathe more easily,” the source said. “Since Management Committees and individual work units are giving potatoes to the market to obtain fertilizer for fall vegetable farming, prices have fallen to 500 KPW. People are happy with that.”

The current price of potatoes in Hyesan is 500KPW per kg, which is 200 KPW less than the same time last year. “However, the current potato price can only last until the end of the month,” the source warned. “By July, when farmers face some of their biggest difficulties, prices look set to rise again.”

Read the full story here:
Prices Fall on First New Potato Harvest
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin
2014-06-23

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North Korea encourages completion of large-scale projects to coincide with 2015 Party Foundation Day

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-6-12

North Korea is attempting to complete the construction of a large scale stockbreeding base and a power plant as symbols of “self-rehabilitation” by October 10, 2015 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). Adorned with these economic achievements, next year’s Party Foundation Day will seek to inspire confidence in the North Korean people and strengthen the foundation of the Kim Jong Un regime.

The Choson Sinbo, a news affiliate of the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, published an article on June 2, 2014 which introduces the Sepho County area of Kangwon Province and the current situation of construction at the stockbreeding complex, reporting that “all construction is planned to be completed by next year’s Party Foundation Day.” Sepho Tableland Construction Company, which began construction of the Sepho County stockbreeding complex toward the end of 2012, is a national company propagandized by Kim Jong Un as the “Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature.”

The construction of the North Pyongan Chongchon River Power Plant, another one of North Korea’s large scale projects, began in January 2013 and is also projected to be finished by next year’s anniversary. Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea Kim Ki Nam was quoted at an April 10, 2014 Pyongyang mass rally, saying, “We must magnificently complete the Chongchon River Power Plant and Sepho County Stockbreeding Base by the Party’s 70th anniversary as a proud gift to our motherland.”

The Chongchon River Power Plant and the Sepho Tableland have been chosen as the two main tasks to be completed in celebration of next year’s anniversary of the foundation of the WPK. The news outlet of the Worker’s Party, the Rodong Sinmun, pointed out in a May 11, 2014 article that the Chongchon River Power Plant will help alleviate the nation’s electricity shortage and stand as a symbol for the nation’s “self-rehabilitation spirit.”

In the past, North Korea has revealed new buildings and symbolic structures before and after major anniversaries in order to brighten the public mood; however, the Kim Jong Un regime’s decision to undertake two large-scale construction projects and finish them both by the anniversary date is worthy of attention.

North Korea is expected to raise their agricultural production goals based on the successful completion of the Sepho Tableland and Chongchon River Power Plant. In his letter to the National Conference of Agricultural Subworkteam Leaders in February 2014, Kim Jong Un stated, “From the year 2015, when we will greet the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, [the agricultural sector] must hit higher grain production targets.”

Coinciding with the projected agricultural increase, the Choson Sinbo reported that production of livestock will also increase with the completion of the Sepho Tableland: “Annual meat production is expected to increase in stages, from five thousand tons in 2017 to ten thousand tons annually by the year 2020.” Provided that these two large-scale projects can be completed according to plan and produce successful results, it is expected that Kim Jong Un’s position within the Party will be strengthened considerably.

As much as the Sepho Tableland and Chongchon River Power Plant give confidence to the North Korean people that their food shortage problem is being solved, it is also assumed that Kim Jong Un will use the success of these projects in order to begin a legacy of his own “achievements.”

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DPRK food rations in May 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s food ration dropped to its lowest level in four months in May, a U.S. radio report said Tuesday, in what could be the latest sign of chronic food shortages.

North Korea doled out 410 grams of food for each person per day in May, compared with 420 grams on average in February, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing the U.N. World Food Programme.

The North’s daily food ration is lower than the WFP’s minimum recommended amount of 600 grams and the North Korean regime’s target amount of 573 grams, the radio said.

North Korea reports information on its food distribution to the United Nations every month to receive international food assistance.

North Korea said it distributed food to 16 million out of 24 million people, though it could not be verified how many North Koreans receive the food ration through the public distribution system, the radio said.

In May, Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the WFP, said her agency’s nutrition program for North Korean children and pregnant women stands at a “very crucial juncture” due to a lack of funding.

She said that the U.N. food agency has received only 20 percent of the funding required to implement the program, which is “critically underfunded.”

The WFP’s humanitarian aid to North Korea reached US$26.56 million last year, compared to $86.94 million in 2012, according to the U.N. food agency.

The North has relied on international handouts since the late 1990s, when it suffered a widespread famine that was estimated to have killed 2 million people.

Voice of America also reports on this.

Here are previous posts on the DPRK’s food (2013, 2014) and agriculture situations.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s food ration hits lowest level in 4 months
Yonhap
2014-6-3

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DPRK leases ROK waters to Chinese fishermen

Friday, May 30th, 2014

NLL-chinese-fishing-2014-6-4

 

Pictured Above: Areas where the fishermen are allegedly crossing the NLL

According to the Joongang Ilbo:

North Korea signed a contract with Chinese fishermen allowing them to fish in waters near the disputed maritime border including South Korea’s waters, sources told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

The contract allows Chinese fishermen to work near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas in the Yellow Sea, including South Korean waters below the boundary, Seoul officials said. In return for giving the Chinese fishermen the right to work in South Korean waters, particularly during crab and squid seasons, North Korea is paid a certain amount of money annually, officials said.

“As North Korea has expanded its joint fishery area with China [to the southern waters below the NLL], some Chinese vessels are moving southward more than they did before,” a South Korean government official said. “We are thinking of more active measures to keep them from violating the NLL.”

Officials confirmed that the South Korean waters allegedly being rented out to the Chinese fishermen were three areas north and east of Baengnyeong Island and north of Yeonpyeong Island. Under the alleged contract, several North Korean and Chinese vessels have recently worked together, officials said. Some North Korean fishermen were allegedly hired by the Chinese vessels’ owners as well.

“Last year, most Chinese vessels worked north of the NLL, but recently they worked very close to the NLL and some crossed the line,” a Korean Coast Guard official said. “So we dispatched additional patrol ships and special Coast Guard forces to the areas.”

Starting in April, the Chinese ships gradually approached the NLL, officials said, and from mid-May, several large vessels crossed the border frequently, apparently for crab fishing.

The Korean Coast Guard seized a total of six Chinese boats that violated the NLL since May 19, including three 10-ton vessels on Tuesday. They said they also spotted about 100 vessels, assumed to be Chinese, near Yeonpyeong Island, and 170 near Baengnyeong Island, fishing in South Korean waters.

The South Korean government notified Beijing of the illegal fishing and called for them to stop, officials said.

“The Foreign Ministry and the Coast Guard told the Chinese Coast Guard officials about the contract that included our waters,” another South Korean official said. “We demanded the Chinese government warn the vessels not to cross the NLL.”

Military officials in Seoul raised concerns about the purpose of the contract. They say that the regime appears to be attempting to nullify the effectiveness of the boundary as well as to earn foreign currency.

“In the name of controlling the Chinese vessels, some North Korean patrol ships could cross the border or seize our fishing boats as well,” a military official said.

Read the full story here:
North rents out waters near NLL
Joongang Ilbo
Jeong Yong-soo
2014-5-30

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Market prices stable despite lean period

Friday, May 16th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

Rice prices in North Korea remain stable despite the arrival of the April-May “spring hardship period,” inside sources have conveyed to Daily NK.

Spring months are usually tough because food supplies run low as North Korea, with its relatively low level of external trade in foodstuffs, waits for the early domestic potato harvest at the end of June. This in turn impacts market rice prices; in May 2012, the price of a kilo of rice skyrocketed by 20% in a single month.

However, this year has been a good one. Sources convey that a kilo of rice is trading in Pyongyang, Sinuiju and Hyesan for 3700, 3850 and 3900 won respectively. This is consistent with preceding months, and below the 4000 won mark initially recorded last December.

The price of corn, often used as a cheap substitute by low-income households when rice gets expensive, is also showing a stable or downward trend. At 800-1000 won per kilo, it is 500 won less than it was in April.

Several factors are contributing to this relative stability, a Hyesan source contended. Firstly, work units on cooperative farms are bringing their stores of rice to market in bulk payment for resources for the planting season. Secondly, May has seen a small decrease in the exchange rate, and this has helped to keep the rice price down in terms of imports.

“It’s the spring planting season and work units have to purchase resources like diesel and fertilizer. People say that ‘rice is money,’ and now they’re selling rice they had stored from last year to purchasing farming products. This means there is enough rice in the markets and the price is stable,” the source said.

A Pyongyang-based source also reported stable market prices, as well as consistent state ration delivery in April.

“The authorities have been continually distributing rations and there is sufficient rice in the markets. More people are buying meat including pork because some laborers had a wage increase. The rice price could drop even further,” he assessed.

Nevertheless, experts in Seoul assert that rice prices could be negatively affected by current dry conditions in the country’s western breadbasket zones

Cho Bong Hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute clarified to Daily NK, “The recent price stability in North Korea’s markets is because of continuous distribution since the release of military rice reserves last year. Expectations around this year’s output could also impact prices further down the line. Some will plan to store rice if they anticipate this year being a lean one, which will in turn drive up the rice price.”

Read the full story here:
Market Prices Stable Despite Lean Period
Daily NK
Lee Sang Yong
2014-05-16

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DPRK expected to produce 1.9 mln tons of rice in 2014

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korea is expected to produce 1.9 million tons of rice in 2014, the same amount that the country is estimated to have produced last year, the U.N. food agency said on May 13.

The figure represents an increase from 2010, 2011 and 2012 when North Korea’s average rice production reached 1.7 million tons, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a biannual global food report posted on its website.

The report said per capita rice consumption in North Korea is forecast to reach 67.8 kilograms this year, compared with 65.4 kg from a year earlier.

It also said North Korea is forecast to produce 2.3 million tons of maize this year, compared with 2.2 million tons in 2013.

Rice is a key staple food for both South and North Koreans, though North Koreans also rely on maize due to chronic food shortages.

The North has relied on international handouts since the late 1990s when it suffered a widespread famine that was estimated to have killed 2 million people.

I spent a good 15 minutes looking for the report (which was never cited by name–sloppy reporting). If the report is to be found on the UNFAO web page, they sure don’t make it easy for a curious person to find.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea expected to produce 1.9 mln tons of rice in 2014: U.N. food agency
Yonhap
2014-5-13

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DPRK – Nigeria agreement

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

According to the Guardian (in Nigeria, not UK):

Nigeria and North Korea have embarked on a multi-focus trade strategy to further deepen the bilateral relations in the various aspects of national development of both countries .

These was contained in the joint communique issued at the end fourth session of the Nigeria -Democratic People’s of Korea (DPRK) two days meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

The communique said that the two countries recognized the need to further deepen the bilateral relations in the various aspects of national development , especially issues of common interest , and agreed to strengthen and enhance the level of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Both countries recognized the relevance of industrial development in nation building and pledged to re-invigorate Economic , Trade , Investment and Industrial cooperation .

The two countries also recognized the role of agriculture and food security to national growth and agreed to expand the scope and scale of cooperation in these areas of Agriculture , Stockbreeding and Fishery sub-sectors.

According to the communiqué, both countries expressed the desire to strengthen programmes and cooperation in the field of Education , and in this context agreed to share achievements and experiences in basic and secondary , vocational and technical , as well as education , and promote cooperation in identified and prioritized fields through exchange of education officials , university professors , guest lecturers, experts and researchers.

Nigeria and DPRK recognized the need for cooperation and exchange of information using modern technology between the public sectors of both countries and promote the private sector in Nigeria , and any other identified fields of common interest.

Speaking at the closing session of the event , the Permanent Secretary , Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Martin Uhomoibhi, noted that Nigeria has been supportive of North Korea in the multilateral setting .

According to him , the relationship between the two countries date back to 38 years ago when the diplomatic relations was established on May 25, 1976.

Commending the participants he said ” let me , at this stage commend the experts and officials of both countries for the zeal , commitment and diligent they have exhibited to ensure a very fruitful and successful 4th session of our joint commission .”

Meanwhile , the two countries agreed that the 5th Session of the joint commission will hold in Pyongyang at a date to be mutually agreed through diplomatic channel.

More in The Diplomat.

Read the full story here:
Nigeria, North Korea partner on bilateral trade, investments
Nigerian Guardian
John Okeke, Abuja
2014-5-7

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North Korea food rations for Kim Il-sung birthday

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korea doled out 420 grams of food to each person per day in April, the same amount as in the previous month, a news report said Tuesday.

Citing the U.N. World Food Program’s office in Pyongyang, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that last month’s daily food ration per capita was unchanged from March though the North marked the 102 birthday of Kim Il-sung, founder of the communist country and grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

The founding father died in 1994, and his birthday is one of the most important holidays in North Korea.

The RFA said April’s daily food ration was much lower than the 600 grams recommended by the U.N. agency.

North Korea’s daily food ration, which amounted to 400 grams in January, has been hovering at 402 grams since then.

The Washington-based Voice of America (VOA), meanwhile, said the WFP provided 2,405 tons of food aid to the impoverished country last month.

The food assistance in April was up 50 percent from March and the largest monthly amount this year, but it was much lower than the 4,093 tons provided during the same month a year earlier, the VOA reported.

The WFP has also suspended operations of five out of its seven confectionery factories in North Korea due to a fund shortage, the VOA said.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea rations 420 grams of food to each person in April
Yonhap
2
014-5-6

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DPRK grain imports from China fall

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

We earlier posted an article on how DPRK-China trade has fallen in the first quarter of 2014. The DPRK has apparently imported zero oil from China in the first quarter of this year.

Grain imports from China also fell.

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s grain imports from China decreased by more than 50 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data showed Sunday.

According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), North Korea imported 26,263 tons of grain, including 23,636 tons of flour, 1,241 tons of rice and 1,192 tons of corn, from China in the January-March period.

The North’s imports during the first three months is equivalent to 48 percent of 54,178 tons imported during the same period a year ago, the data showed. Compared with the first quarter of 2012, the country’s grain imports from China decreased about 40 percent.

In terms of value, the North’s imports of Chinese grain amounted to US$11.93 million in the first quarter, down 52 percent from $24.71 last year.

“The drop in the North’s grain imports from China in the period compared with other years seems to be due to an increase in the country’s grain production last year,” said Kwon Tae-jin, a research fellow at the government-funded Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI). “However, the country may increase its grain imports in the future, as the amount of its grain production is not enough for its people.”

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) estimates the North produced 5.03 million tons of polished grain between November 2013 and October 2014, up 5 percent from a year ago.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s grain imports from China halve in Q1
Yonhap
2014-4-27

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Mongolia involved in Sepho Tableland project

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Sepho-tableland

Pictured above: Sepho, Phyonggang, and Ichon Counties. These three counties are home to the Sepho Tableland Project.

According to KCNA:

DPRK, Mongolia Sign MOUs

Pyongyang, April 2 (KCNA) — A memorandum of understanding on setting up the DPRK-Mongolia friendship joint company between the DPRK and Mongolian governments was inked here on Wednesday.

Present at the signing ceremony from the DPRK side were Ri Ryong Nam, minister of Foreign Trade who doubles as chairman of the DPRK side to the Inter-governmental Committee for Consultation in Economy, Trade, Science and Technology between the DPRK and Mongolia, Hwang Min, vice-minister of Agriculture who is also chairman of the Livestock Management Committee in Sepho Area, and officials concerned and from the Mongolian side were Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga who is chairman of the Mongolian side to the Inter-governmental Committee for Consultation in Economy, Trade, Science and Technology between the DPRK and Mongolia and his party and Manibadrakh Ganbold, Mongolian ambassador to the DPRK, and his embassy officials.

A MOU was also signed between the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the DPRK and the Ministry of Labor of Mongolia.

The Sepho Tableland Project was announced on November 9, 2012 (KCNA):

DPRK Premier Stresses Importance of Building Large-scale Stockbreeding Base

Pyongyang, November 9 (KCNA) — Premier Choe Yong Rim learned about the preparations for creating vast grass field in Sepho, Phyonggang and Ichon counties of Kangwon Province and turning it into a large-scale stockbreeding base of the country.

The creation of vast grass field in the counties covering tens of thousands of hectares and the construction of combined processing base for livestock products will bring about an epochal turn in carrying out the party’s policy of improving the standard of people’s living by massively breeding grass-eating domestic animals.

Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il gave instructions to Sepho County several times on developing stockbreeding suited to climatic, natural and topographical conditions, while making continued journey of guidance for people’s happiness.

The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un unfolded a plan for transformation of Sepho tableland, true to the intention of the great Generalissimos and brightly indicated the orientation and ways for realizing it.

The premier first learned about the vegetable produced in part of the reclaimed Sepho tableland, looking round the field of a sideline farm of a unit of the Korean People’s Army.

Then, he acquainted himself with the area of reclaimed grass field and soil condition in Sepho County in Songsan area of the Sepho tableland.

A consultative meeting of senior officials of party, state and army was held on the spot.

The participants were briefed on a huge map showing the panoramic view of the field. The meeting discussed the goal of reclaiming grass field in Sepho, Phyonggang and Ichon areas and building stockbreeding base and the issue of providing labor, raw materials and equipment necessary for its reclamation and construction.

The meeting called on all the units to channel efforts into achieving the goal of creating grass field and reclaiming and building stockbreeding base in Sepho, Phyonggang and Ichon areas. The goal reflects the far-reaching plan and unusual wisdom of the Marshal.

Practical issues including the work for keeping the designing ahead of the project and providing raw materials and equipment under a plan were discussed and relevant organization of work was made at the meeting.

The premier, concluding the meeting, called on officials and builders to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and certainly realize the noble intention of the Marshal to create the socialist fairyland in Sepho, Phyonggang and Ichon areas.

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