North Korea encourages water-conserving farming techniques

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

After the severe drought this summer, North Korean authorities are actively encouraging farmers to employ water-conserving farming techniques in order to minimize the drought’s impact on the harvest.

On July 20, 2015, an article was published in the Journal of Kim Il Sung University, No. 3 that offers a variety of ways farmers can decrease water usage while increasing rice production.

The article, entitled ‘Principal Issues in the Introduction of Water-Conserving Farming Techniques,’ explains that yongyangalmo (a type of rice seedling in which two or three seeds are contained in one grain) only needs to be watered once every four to seven days, and the harvest is approximately 437kg greater per chongbo* than that of normal rice seedlings.

The article also recommended that in regions where water is especially scarce, farmers should cultivate large rice seedlings, which can shorten the rice-planting time, and use fertilizer that enhances the crop’s resistance to the cold.

“Agricultural laborers and workers need to innovatively increase the grain yield per chongbo with less water by actively implementing in all agricultural processes the water-conservation farming techniques of our-style, the superiority and productivity of which have been proven,” the article stressed.

In June 2015 the Workers’ Party mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun published a similarly-themed article entitled, ‘Efforts to Overcome Severe Drought Damage.’ The article shared examples of other countries’ efforts to overcome major droughts, such as Cuba’s regulation of water consumption and Sri Lanka’s construction of wells.

North Korea’s continual emphasis on water-conservation farming techniques appears to be related to its frequent droughts and resulting food shortages.

In particular, this year North Korea was hit by a drought so severe that North Korean authorities called it the “worst drought in a century.” In the wake of that misfortune, North Korea is actively encouraging farming techniques that minimize the use of water.

Given the frequent food shortages caused by droughts, it seems North Korea will have no choice but to accelerate the development of agricultural methods that can produce similar results with less water.

* North Korean unit of measurement equivalent to roughly 9,900 m2


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