DPRK boosts food imports from Russia

According to the Daily NK:

Rice prices in North Korea’s North Hamkyung and Yangkang Provinces have dropped despite general stability in market prices around the country. This is largely due to an influx of rice from Russia, offsetting regular price increases that come during the spring when grains fall short in supply.

“Rice sold for about 5,000 KPW [0.63 USD] per kg in Onsong County at the beginning of March, but recently that has dipped to about 4,200 KPW [0.53 USD],” a source in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on Wednesday. A source in Yangkang province confirmed a similar trend, saying, “The price of rice has been continually dropping in Hyesan Market, recently falling to the 4,000 KPW [0.5 USD] mark.”

Public demand for rice usually surges in April, and expectations were the cost would jump due to a clampdown on border movements this month that would block smuggled supplies. However, the supply from Russia has reversed these projections, multiple sources confirmed.

“Ships that can hold over 10,000 tons are carrying in wheat or rice from Russia through the harbors of Chongjin and Rasun,” the North Hamkyung source said. “These grains go to the military first, but then are flowing into the markets through back channels.”

He added that the North has been emphasizing relations with Russia more than with China this year, spurring a surge in trade as well as the dispatch of more workers to Russia to pull in foreign currency. This same source also reported multiple sightings –not only by him but but a host of residents–of shipments of oil and grains coming into the North from Russia.

Fluctuations in rice prices have not yet been confirmed in provinces other than the two cited above. Markets in Pyongyang and North Pyongan Province’s Sinuiju have held rice prices at the 5,000 KPW [0.63 USD] level as of mid-April, according to research by Daily NK. This is likely due to the added time it takes to transport rice to the inner areas of the country from the borders.

Both sources blamed power shortages for the delay, exacerbated by state crackdowns preventing traveling peddlers selling goods out of their trucks from entering the markets to do business. While this has contributed to the sluggish supply inland in the very short-term, prices are expected to level out soon.

Read the full story here:
Russian Supply Drives Down Rice Prices
Daily NK
Lee Sang Yong


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