Archive for the ‘2014 Food Shortage’ Category

Fertilizer imports up to Feb 2014

Friday, March 28th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

The North brought in 13,769 tons of Chinese fertilizer in February, a whopping 13 times more than some 1,064 tons from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korean Rural Economic Institute (KREI).

In the first two months of the year, Pyongyang imported 48,882 tons of Chinese fertilizer, which is far higher than 1,066 tons from the same period a year earlier, the data showed.

“The 2013 figure is unprecedented, as the North used to buy a limited amount in the winter season. It seems to be very proactive in securing fertilizer long ahead of its usual schedule, and that indicates farm output improvement is its top priority,” said KREI researcher Kwon Tae-jin.

In his New Year’s message, the North’s young leader Kim Jong-un stressed boosting food production, saying all efforts “should go for agriculture … in order to build a strong economy and to improve the people’s livelihoods.”

Last year, Pyongyang bought a total of 207,334 tons of fertilizer from China, down by 18 percent from the previous year.

Additional Information:

1. The United Nations and South Korean government have reported that domestic gain production is up in 2013.

2. The DPRK has also increased food imports from China in 2013.

3. Food aid from UN was down in 2013.

4. Food prices fell in last year. DPRK won appreciated in last year.

5. Kim Jong-un’s speech to subworkteam leaders.

6. Previous posts on ‘foood’.

7. Scott Snyder on DPRK-China trade.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s fertilizer imports from China soar in Feb.


Rice prices falling / won value rising

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The Daily NK has just updated their very valuable tables of rice prices and exchange rates. Things appear to have improved for the won and for those who have to make purchases with it.

Here is the most recent data on the Won/US$ exchange rate:




In March 2013 it took approximately W8,700 to buy one US$. Today that number has fallen to as low as W7,300. Most of the won’s gain in value has taken place in the last month.  As of February 2014, the US$ was worth W8,400–meaning the Won/US$ exchange rate has fallen (the currency has appreciated) by appx 13% since then.

Since the Chinese Yuan trades in a narrow band around the US$, the data would look much the same in terms of the Chinese currency.

Of course what remains to be seen is how stable the rate will be going forward.

The Daily NK also offers time series data on the price of rice:


According to the chart above, the price of a kilo rice has fallen from approximately W6,900 in March of 2013 to W4,000 in March 2014. A fall of 42% in the last year!


Corn prices falling in DPRK

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

The price of corn in North Korea has fallen by nearly 1000 won, sources from inside the country report.

Over the past two years the price of corn has tended to remain at around half the price of rice, but a recent increase in rice distribution and an overall increase in purchasing power has seen the cost of corn plummet.

A source in Hyesan, Yangkang Province told Daily NK on the 11th that, “Corn cost 2000 to 2200 won in January and February but can now be bought for 1500 won. The price continues to fall, and less people are seeking it out in the markets, too.”

Furthermore, “People don’t think there’s any reason to buy corn if the price of rice is only 4000 won [per kilo]. Perhaps that’s why rice traders are doing far better in the markets than the corn traders.”

One kilogram of rice costs 4000 won in Pyongyang, 43000 won in Sinuiju and 4400 won in Hyesan; a respective drop of 200, 200 and 100 won from the previous month, the source alleged.

One kilogram of corn, on the other hand, can be bought for 1400 won in Pyongyang, 1550 won in Sinuiju and 1500 won in Hyesan; a 500-700 won drop from last month.

“It used to be that if the rice price was 4000 won then corn would be traded at around 2000 won. It appears now, however, that the corn price is falling irrespective of the rice price, and people are wondering why. They’re still not going out to buy it, though,” the source added.

It is thought that the significant drop in price may partly be the result of last year’s plentiful harvest and increased rice distribution in select regions, including Pyongyang.

Moreover, “When rice is expensive people get sick of corn and plan to eat rice again as soon as it becomes affordable. People are well aware that you get more value from purchasing rice, as a lot of corn is lost during the processing stage. For these reasons they’re not really buying that much corn at the markets.”

Cho Bong Hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute told Daily NK, “Sanctions from the international community have resulted in the provision of more corn aid than rice aid. This means the price of corn falls more rapidly than the price of rice.”

“The people’s purchasing power is on the up because of the recent wage increases for laborers, which in turn has seen a greater preference for rice in the markets,” he said.

Read the full story here:
Corn Price Plummets as Demand Slows
Daily NK


DPRK fertilizer imports (2013 – Jan 2014)

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s fertilizer imports from China skyrocketed in January from a year earlier, data showed Tuesday, pointing to Pyongyang’s efforts to increase agricultural output.

The North brought in 35,113 tons of Chinese fertilizer in January, a huge increase from 2 tons from a year earlier, according to the data by the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI).

Such an amount is unprecedented for January, as the impoverished communist country used to buy a limited amount of fertilizer in winter, according to KREI experts.

The January figure is also two times bigger than the 17,416 tons for December, according to the data.

“Different from its previous pattern of buying fertilizer in spring, North Korea seems to be taking a very proactive move to secure fertilizer a long time ahead of its usual schedule. This means that the North is putting a priority on improving its farm output,” said KREI researcher Kwon Tae-jin.

It is in line with its leader Kim Jong-un’s policy goal of boosting food production, experts said.

In his New Year’s message, the young leader said all efforts “should go for agriculture … in order to build a strong economy and to improve the people’s livelihoods.”

Last year, Pyongyang bought a total of 207,334 tons of fertilizers from China, down by 18 percent from the previous year.

“This year, the trend is expected to be reversed given the January data and the fact that China has lowered duties,” Kwon added.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s fertilizer imports from China soar in Jan.


UN WFP gives DPRK $3.2m assistance in Feb 2014

Friday, February 28th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

 The U.N. food agency has provided emergency food aid worth US$3.2 million for children and pregnant women in North Korea earlier this month, according to a news report.

The World Food Program (WFP) has given the emergency funding assistance in February, Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported Thursday, citing a spokesman handling North Korean affairs.

The U.N. body has said earlier that it will close five out of its seven factories within this month that produce nutritious biscuits due to a lack of funding, the report said, amid an apparent donor fatigue over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

On Thursday, North Korea fired what appeared to be four short-range ballistic missiles off its southeast coast, South Korean officials said, in a suspected reaction to U.S.-involved military exercises in the South that Pyongyang condemns as a rehearsal for invasion.

The WFP said in November that food production in the North is estimated to have been around 5.03 million metric tons in 2013, up 5 percent from the previous year.

Still, the food security situation remains serious, with 84 percent of all households having borderline or poor food consumption, according to the U.N. food agency.

A few days ago, a report titled “Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) 200532 “Nutrition Support for Children and Women” in DPR Korea” was released with additional data.

Read the full story here:
WFP gives US$3.2 mln in emergency aid to N. Korea: report