FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL REPORT

 FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA

26 October 2001

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Highlights

 

  • This year's food production in DPR Korea has shown a substantial recovery compared to last year's reduced output, despite the impact of the spring drought on crops in earlier stages of growth.
  • The factors behind this strong recovery include favourable performance of rains from mid-June through August, international assistance with the provision of fertilizers, improved and timely availability of farm machinery and other inputs, intensified national endeavours including increased budgetary allocation for agriculture and a mobilization of people's efforts.
  • The 2001 cereal production is forecast at 4.26 million tonnes (or 3.54 million tonnes in milled basis), the best harvest since 1995/96, and larger by 38 percent compared to last year's reduced harvest.
  • Despite a significant recovery in 2001, the domestic production will fall well below the minimum food needs and the country will again have to depend on substantial external food assistance for next year as its capacity to import commercially remains highly constrained.
  • The cereal deficit for 2001/02 (November/October) is estimated at 1.47 million tonnes compared to 2.2 million tonnes in the previous year. With commercial imports anticipated at 100 000 tonnes, 1.37 million tonnes will need to be covered by food aid and concessional food imports.
  • Based on vulnerability analysis and existing targeting capacities, the Mission recommends the mobilisation of 525 000 tonnes of food aid in cereals and 85 000 tonnes of other food items during 2001/02 for the population groups who are particularly at risk

 

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1. OVERVIEW

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited the country from 25 September to 5 October to assess the 2001 crop harvest, forecast 2002 winter/spring wheat, barley and potato crops, and review food supply prospects for the 2001/02 marketing year (November-October), including food aid requirements.

Following the standard assessment methodology, the Mission members interviewed government, county and cooperative officials, observed standing and harvested crops in fields and carried out crop cuts to assess yields, visited schools and nurseries, checked Public Food Distribution Centres, and interviewed families. The Mission covered seven out of 12 provinces of the country, which account for over 80 percent of the national cereal production. The provinces visited include South Pyongan, North Pyongan, North Hwangae, South Hwangae, Pyongyang (municipality), Kangwon and South Hamgyong. Discussions were also held with staff of UN agencies, NGOs, and Diplomatic missions based in Pyongyang. The Mission also used high resolution SPOT-4 satellite images to verify vegetation conditions in 2001 compared to the previous years.

Relatively good and well distributed rainfall from mid-June to end-August, following the 2001 spring drought, benefited the production of 2001 main crops, substantially overcoming the potential adverse effects of the drought. Reservoirs were also replenished so that water levels in most of them, though still low, have been better than the earlier part of the year, facilitating improved irrigation. At the same time, determined to increase food crop production as much as possible, the government effectively mobilized the national and people's efforts. The government budget for agriculture, reportedly increased by 10 percent compared to last year, translated into increased import of fertilizer, tractors, tyres, machinery spare parts and fuel. International assistance, especially in providing fertilizers, has also been extremely helpful. The farm inputs were made available to the cooperatives at appropriate times. Also, as and when necessary, people, even school children, worked and provided irrigation manually to crops and assisted with the transplanting and other vital farming activities.

These positive factors resulted in improved crop yields, resulting in a cereal harvest which has been the best since 1995/96 - up on the previous best (1998/99) by about 2 percent and on the last year's reduced output by 38 percent. However, it must be noted that the production estimate also includes a forecast of 2001/02 winter/spring wheat, barley and potato crops, which account for 10-15 percent of the total cereal output and are still to be planted. The production estimate may need to be revised once the harvest outcome of these crops is known.

Despite its good outcome, the 2001 cereal production will still remain well below the minimum consumption needs of the country. The estimated total domestic cereal production available for the 2001/02 marketing year amounts to 3.54 million tonnes (milled basis/cereal equivalent1/). Food use based on an estimated population of 23.5 million and other utilization needs for 2001/02 are estimated at 5.01 million tonnes. This leaves a deficit of 1.47 million tonnes, of which 1.37 million tonnes need to be covered by food aid and concessional imports. Against this requirement, pledged and pipeline food aid amounts to 331 000 tonnes. Based on vulnerability analysis and existing targeting capacities targeted food assistance of 525 000 tonnes of cereals and 85 000 tonnes of other food items for the most needy people is proposed by the Mission to be mobilized for delivery in 2001/02.

The food supply situation showed a significant improvement in 2001, mainly due to substantial international assistance provided both as grant aid and concessional imports. Unless adequate food aid and concessional imports are provided, the food supply situation in 2001/02 will revert to its previous precarious levels with serious food security consequences, particularly for the vulnerable groups.

There is little doubt that widespread starvation in the country has only been averted over the past six years by concerted national efforts and the unprecedented volume of humanitarian food assistance provided by the international community to date. The Mission stresses that the crucial food aid safety net needs to be maintained until sustainable food security is achieved through the recovery of the economy and the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector for which substantial international assistance will be needed.

2. OVERALL ECONOMIC SETTING AND AGRICULTURE IN DPR KOREA

The sharp decline that the economy of DPR Korea experienced since the early 1990s was compounded by the recurring natural disasters since 1995. Over the past seven years, drought or floods have since been visiting the country virtually every year with more or less severity, with the consequent adverse impacts on the production of foodcrops, compounding the impact of critical shortages of fertilizers, agro-chemicals, plastic sheets and farm machinery. Economic decline meant serious resource constraints - domestic and foreign exchange - on the supply of necessary agricultural inputs.

As the economy of DPR Korea has been having to contend with recurring natural disasters, it has also been facing an unfavourable external environment. It achieved significant strides in industrial, agricultural and service sectors up to the late 1980s, utilizing economic linkages with the former USSR and Eastern bloc countries. But the collapse of the former USSR and Eastern bloc countries naturally meant snapping of those linkages for DPR Korea, disrupting the country's access to resources and markets, thereby initiating the process of economic decline that has since continued unabated.

The industrial sector is in a precarious state, with obsolete machinery and suffering from critical shortages of spare parts and raw materials, while the agricultural sector is plagued by shortages of inputs compounded by adverse weather conditions. Following an improvement in 1998/99 (although still below 1995/96 production) after a continuous decline over the previous several years, cereal production dipped sharply in 2000, generating a massive food gap (import requirement) of over 2 million tonnes. Estimates show that there has been a recovery in 2001 to about the 1998/99 level; the severe 2001 spring drought has been a cause preventing a better harvest. In fact, the government and the cooperative/state farms mounted extraordinary efforts this year to improve food production. The government budget for the agricultural sector, reportedly increased this year by 10 percent compared to last year, translated in increased supplies of agricultural inputs in a timely manner. Substantial international assistance with the supply of fertilizers was provided. These factors obviously have been helpful in substantially circumventing the adverse impacts of the spring drought and resulting in a significant recovery in cereal production in 2001.

In order for the prevailing circumstances to improve and bring about a reversal of the downward economic trend, major efforts are needed with assistance from the international community towards rehabilitating industries, infrastructure, and the agricultural sector. In the agriculture sector, the obsolete and decaying farm machinery and disrupted irrigation facilities need rehabilitating and adequate and timely supply of fertilizers, agro-chemicals and plastic sheets need to be ensured on a regular basis.

3. FOOD PRODUCTION IN 2001/02

3.1 Climate

DPR Korea has a continental climate. The annual average rainfall is 1054 mm, ranging from 616-979 mm in the North and North-eastern areas (Changang, Ryanggang, North and South Hamgyong) to 880-1302 mm in the Centre, South-west and South-east (North and South Pyongan, Nampo, Pyongyang, North and South Hwanghae, Kaesong and Kangwon). About 85 percent of all precipitation occurs during the spring-summer period and 60 percent is distributed between June and September. The average temperature varies from -19°C below zero in winter (Ryanggang, January coldest month) to 25°C in summer (South Hwanghae, August hottest month). The frost free period ranges from 160 to 190 days, somewhat limiting the length of the cropping season.

In 2000/01, rainfall started slowly nation-wide and performed very poorly throughout spring, with monthly rainfall all over the country much below the long term average. The drought continued until mid-June. However, as reported by almost all recording meteorological stations, cumulative precipitation between mid-June and September has performed better compared to the very poor performance during the previous cropping season. In most places, rainfall performed at the level of or above the long term average. In South Hwanghae, South Pyongan and Kaesong, the good rains since mid-June were followed by heavy precipitation from July through mid-August, but, then, were interrupted till end of September. The severe spring drought which had resulted in a dramatic yield reduction of the winter and spring 2000/01 double crop, also affected the 2001 maize crop at the early stages of crop growth and resulted in successive plantings. Non-availability of quality seeds constrained further yield improvement. Insufficient rains and low supplies of irrigation water also caused delay in paddy transplanting in many places and a consequential slight decrease of overall planted area. However, it only marginally affected the paddy yields, except in some areas which have suffered from severe water shortages or have not been able for different reasons to pump irrigation water. Figure 1 shows the 2001 rainfall data compared with those of the previous seasons and with the long term average from four representative stations located in the major producing areas of DPR Korea.

Minimum average temperatures in 2001 have been registered at all stations at levels above the values of the respective long term average. Analogously, maximum temperatures have been reported as higher than the long-term average (LTA) from April onwards and significantly higher (by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius) in September. This year's temperature pattern (and reportedly, the length of the sunshine hours) in most places of the major producing areas has been favourable for both paddy and maize crops during the critical stages of their growth cycles (germination and flowering).

After the Mission's departure from the country, heavy rains and floods on 9 and 10 October caused extensive damage to property, infrastructure and crops, and loss of life in the eastern provinces of Kangwon and South Hangyong.

Figure 1: Rainfall in Different Provinces of DPRK, 2000/01 Crop Season

3.2 Area Planted

Total land area in DPR Korea amounts to 12 254 300 hectares, while the total cultivated land is estimated to be less than 20 percent of the total land area, i.e. some 2 000 000 hectares. Approximately 1.4 million is considered suitable for cereal cultivation, 300 000 hectares are under vegetable crops and the remaining 300 000 hectares is devoted to permanent crops. There is very limited scope for expanding cultivable areas. The Government has investigated the possibility of reclaiming some 300 000 hectares of tidal land and another 200 000 hectares by terracing of mountainous areas. Due to the high cost involved, only little progress has so far been made mainly in hill terracing.

Paddy is mainly grown in the Centre, South-west and South-east. Maize cultivation is more equally distributed in all provinces, the major areas being South and North Pyongan, South and North Hwanghae and South and North Hamgyong. Other crops include wheat, barley, sorghum, millet, potatoes, soybean, vegetables, fruit trees, and mulberry plantations. The short agricultural growing season limits crop rotations and favours cereal mono-culture in the country.

All available agriculture land is organised and cropped within the cooperative farms (about 38 000) and state farms (about 180). The persistent food shortages over the past seven years have led the country to adopt coping strategies which involved cultivation of fragile soils on hill slopes with very high gradients and marginal potential. As a result, deforestation, soil erosion and soil degradation processes have often increased together with silt deposits in rivers and reservoirs. The government is combating this phenomenon by declaring deforestation illegal and by discouraging cereal cultivation on hill/mountain slopes. The Mission has noticed that in the major producing provinces the cultivation of some degraded lands has ceased. However, reforestation and replanting of pasture land needs more attention.

Maize is planted under rainfed conditions or on marginally irrigated lands. Until 1998, maize planted area amounted to some 630 000 hectares. But since then, the government has set lower maize planting targets in order to avoid expansion to lands with low potential and diverting land to other crops. On marginal lands, less water requiring cereal crops and pulses have substituted maize while, on lands with higher potential, vegetables and main season potato have entered into the crop rotations. Hence, area planted under maize in 2001, estimated at 496 390 hectares, has remained unchanged from the two preceding years.

Paddy is cultivated in the alluvial plains or on graded terraces equipped with irrigation control systems. The cultivated area has remained almost constant over the last decade. Nevertheless, due to severe water shortages during the last cropping season, the paddy area was reduced to 535 000 hectares in 2000, with some 45 000 hectares diverted to low water requiring and low yielding cereal crops, i.e. sorghum, millet, etc.

In 2001, the reported cultivated area under paddy was 572 030 hectares. Due to delayed transplanting in some places and consequential crop substitution on 8 000 hectares, the target of 580 000 hectares could not be reached. The mission has noted a possible future trend which may lead to a decrease of paddy cultivation on marginally irrigated lands. This is likely to occur also in those areas where irrigation is possible only with intensive pumping which has become extremely difficult under present conditions. A crop substitution in these areas with maize replacing paddy is likely.

The Double Cropping programme initiated in 1996 jointly by the UN agencies and the Government of DPR Korea is considered to be under present conditions an effective strategy towards enhancing food production. The aim of the programme is to utilize the agricultural land between October to June with additional cereal and potato crops to be followed by Maize and Paddy cultivation from June to September. The double cropped area under winter and spring wheat, spring barley and spring potato has increased from 38 000 hectares in 1997 to some 191 500 hectares during winter 2000-spring 2001 growing season. Winter wheat is sown from the end of September to mid-October, immediately after the harvesting of the main season crops. Accordingly, the factors that affect the cultivated area are timely availability of seed, a wet autumn weather and provision of adequate farm power and labour at a time when the demand for labour is high for harvest and threshing of paddy and maize. The objective of timely sowing is to have 4-5 leaves before growth stops in winter. As a result, the double cropped area is unlikely to expand further under the prevailing conditions. The area under winter/spring crops for the 2001/02 season is forecast to be 57 270 hectares under winter wheat and 35 630 hectares under spring barley. About 98 744 hectares are also planned under spring potato. The farm managers interviewed have suggested that no further expansion of double cropped area was possible under the prevailing technological conditions.

Potato has been traditionally cultivated in the northern highlands. As a double crop, potato is sown in April and harvested in June while as a main crop it is sown in May-June and harvested in August-September. As the production and availability of main cereals has declined in recent years, potato has been increasing in importance in all the major agricultural areas. Availability of seed is the most important limiting factor to the expansion of area under potato. Potato blight has also seriously affected crops in some areas. The maximum cultivable area of spring and main season crops under present conditions is around 190 000 hectares. The area under the main season potato this year is estimated to be 89 031 hectares.

The overall area cultivated under minor cereals and grains such as sorghum, various types of millet and "off" season wheat and barley in mountainous areas is estimated at about 60 000 hectares. Minor cereals have substituted maize in the areas marginally suitable for this crop in terms of water availability, soil fertility and land gradient. These lower water requiring crops are cultivated using little or no growth augmenting inputs. The Mission noticed a diversion of area from maize to sorghum and an expansion of soybean crop planted along boundaries of paddy fields, intercropped with maize or sorghum and grown as an individual crop. The cultivated area under these crops for the 2001/02 cropping season is reported to be 61 854 hectares.

3.3 Means of production and inputs

Planting material

In DPR Korea, high yielding varieties (HYV) and quality traditional paddy varieties and hybrid maize seeds are replaced each year, and are supplied to the production units by the existing distribution system. Quality seed is multiplied by specialised cooperatives or state farms existing in each county. This year, seeds were as usual replaced and were available on time as required. Thus sowing dates for all crops were by and large normal.

However, due to the prolonged spring drought, maize seeds widely failed to germinate and as many as two replantings were necessary for some 35 to 40 percent of the cropped area. For the replanted nurseries and direct field plantings, hybrid maize seeds were generally not available and lower yielding (due to genetic character segregation) second generation seeds have been utilised. Maize seed rates range from 40 to 50 kg/hectare and plant density varies from approximately 35 000 to 50 000 plants per hectare2/.

Although transplanted, paddy3/ seed rates are extraordinarily high in DPRK, ranging from 140 to 160 kg per hectare. As noticed by the Mission while performing crop cutting experiments, plant per hectare population is also in the high range of 300 000-400 000 plants. The decreasing fertility of the soils obliges the cooperatives to use high seed rates. The average low tillering rate of the prevailing varieties necessitates an agronomic coping strategy for yield enhancement focused on high planting density. However, low fertilizer applications on low fertility soils result in plant competition for nutrients, thus suppressing yield potential. Correlation between seed rates, plant density, fertilizer consumption and yields needs further research effort.

Plastic sheets have been reported to be generally in short supply, with the consequent longer duration of the nursery phase and delayed transplanting. This year the paddy crop has benefited only in few places from an increased availability of plastic sheets which are necessary during nursery establishment in order to mitigate the effect of the low temperatures occurring in March.

Regarding potato, available seed potatoes were of poor quality and low seed rates (0.8-1 ton per hectare, against the recommended 3-4 tonne per hectare) are practised. Due to seed shortages, potato tubers are normally cut into four pieces. Such a practice not only depresses the yield levels but also encourages disease infestations to plants. This year, potato blight had seriously affected crops in several areas. Some quality seed potatoes are produced in specialised farms or imported from China; household farms are still reported to be the most important sources of seed potatoes.

Fertilizer and Pesticides

In 2001, the availability of fertilizer amounted to some 190 000 tonnes of NPK nutrient equivalent, about 17 percent more than in 2000. However, the actual fertilizer availability and application rates of NPK nutrients remain about one-third of the levels recorded before 1989 (Figure 2).

The bulk (71 percent) of the fertilizer availability of the country was covered by donations from the international aid community (mainly from the Republic of Korea), which along with other complementary factors, has significantly contributed to increased yield levels. However, the domestic production capacity of the three manufacturing plants (Namhung, Hungnam and Aoji) which continue to suffer not only from obsolescence, but also from extreme shortage of raw material and spare parts, has further declined. In 1999, these fertilizer producing units were still able to produce some 30 percent of the applied nutrients, but in 2001 their contribution accounted for less than 14 percent of the total availability.

Table 1 shows the provincial breakdown of fertilizer use expressed in NPK nutrient equivalent.

Table 1: DPRK - Fertilizer distribution by Province in '000 tonnes

Province / Municipality
N
P
K
Pyongyang
4.7
1.1
1.2
South Pyongan
19.3
3.6
4.5
North Pyongan
22.3
4.1
5.2
Changang
5
1
1.1
South Hwanghae
28.5
5.6
6.6
North Hwanghae
14.3
2.9
3
Kangwon
8.6
2
2.1
South Hamgyong
13.7
2.6
3.2
North Hamgyong
8.5
1.8
2
Ryanggang
2.4
0.6
0.6
Kaesong
2.2
0.7
0.6
Nampo
2.7
0.6
0.6
Total
132.2
26.6
30.7
NPK nutrient equivalent
190

 

Fertilizer application rates to paddy and maize have increased in 2001 given improved availability. It is estimated that some 70 to 80 kg (nitrogen equivalent nutrient) per hectare were distributed this year to the main cereal crops in the form of Ammonium Sulphate, Urea and several NPK combinations. It is also assumed that some 15 to 20 percent of this year's yield results are to be attributed to the increased and timely NPK nutrient applications at critical plant requiring stages. The Cooperative farming units have also improved their efforts in producing organic fertilizer providing some 20 to 30 tonnes per hectare of farm yard manure. The use of organic fertilizer and of on-farm produced bio-pesticides is being greatly emphasised by farm managers for their beneficial long term effects and for substitution of fertilizer imports.

The Mission noted the extraordinary domestic efforts at various levels this year in the production of organic fertilizer and bio-pesticides, particularly for their beneficial environmental effects. The Mission stresses that this year's overall efforts need to be sustained and strengthened with a view to stopping and reversing the persistent mining of nutrients from the soils during the last decade caused by a continuous mono-culture and poor NPK application and micro nutrient replenishment.

Farm Power

Tractors are widely used for land preparation for paddy cultivation, but draught animals are used in conjunction with tractors for cultivating maize on the slopes. Only some 55 percent of the 64 000 existing tractors are operational (2 tractors per 100 hectares) this year; this represents an increase in the number of functioning tractors by some 15 percent compared to the previous cropping season. More tyres and spare parts have been made available to the Cooperatives. Also some 500 new tractors have been imported. This has allowed an increased number of ploughings carried out at proper depth. This year, both fuel and electric power supply to the cooperative system has increased (up by about 10-15 percent). The supplies have been made available to the farms at appropriate times, thereby enabling a more effective organisation and scheduling of farming operations.

Irrigation

The country has high water potential while the availability of agricultural land is limited. It may be recalled, however, that heavy rains and high tidal waves during 1995-96 caused disastrous floods which, in turn, significantly damaged the irrigation network. The irrigation systems are also energy intensive (by pumping) and much of the plants and infrastructure are near the end of their economic life.

The irrigation pattern in DPR Korea is dependent on the availability of water in the reservoirs and rivers. Due to this year's adverse spring weather which followed last year's drought, water levels in all reservoirs remained low until June (at about 40 percent of the capacity) and did not permit irrigation of the maize crop during the plant establishment period. However, abundant and well distributed rains from mid-June through August replenished most irrigation reservoirs. In September 2001, the water levels in ten major stations were reported to be, on average, about half the reservoir capacity (Figure 3).

In 2001, the irrigation pattern of the major cereal crops has been as follows.

Table 2: DPR Korea - Irrigation pattern of major cereal crops, 2001

Irrigation Pattern
Paddy
Maize
 
(ha)
(%)
(ha)
%
Fully irrigated
320 000
56
155 000
31
Partially irrigated
150 000
26
115 000
23
Poorly irrigated
102 000
18
226 000
46
Total
572 000
100
496 000
100

3.4 Yield and Production

Paddy: This year the production of the irrigated paddy crop is estimated at 2.06 million tonnes, about 22 percent more than the low output of 1.69 million tonnes produced last year and about the same as that of the good 1998/99 harvest.

As shown above, irrigation was fully provided only to some 56 percent of the paddy fields, and partially to 26 percent of the area while the remainder is considered to have been poorly irrigated. Insufficient water levels in the reservoirs due to prolonged spring drought coincided with the crop transplanting stage. The rainfall pattern from June to mid-August was favourable for the most sensitive growth periods of the crop. In some areas, another dry period occurred in September, affecting the crop during panicle formation and grain filling stages. Although this year there has been an overall increased availability of irrigation water compared to 2000, an insufficient irrigation regime occurred during the initial vegetative stage and in some cases also at panicle formation phase. However, the overall performance of the paddy crop was significantly better than last year due to improved fertilizer application, land preparation and favourable weather conditions and low incidence of pests and diseases.

Maize: The maize output is forecast at 1.48 million tonnes, about 42 percent up in comparison with the 2000 production and 20 percent more than the level of 1999.

The spring drought conditions impeded crop germination in places where even marginal irrigation was not possible and replanting was thus necessary in about 45 percent of the cropped area. Most of the replanted crop germinated successfully at the second planting while some 5-10 percent required a third planting. As a result, the crop which had germinated after first planting had suffered water shortages at flowering and pollination stages resulting in reduced yield, with lower than normal grain number per cob mainly. However, the maize crop that has been replanted in May and June had suffered less damage at the vegetative stage, but benefited from improved weather pattern during the critical growth phases.

The main season potato output is expected to be 1.28 million tonnes, equivalent to about 320 000 tonnes in cereal equivalent. In 2000, due to drought, potato output was seriously reduced.

The forecast of double cropped production in mid-2002 is based on the averages of the past four years.

Table 3 shows the expected national and provincial breakdown of cropped area and production for 2001/02, while Table 4 summarizes the cropped area, yield and production by cereal types. Figure 4 shows the total cereal production from 1995/96 to 2001/02 (including rice in milled form and potato in cereal equivalent).

Table 3: DPR Korea - Area and Production of main season crops (2001) and forecast of double cropping cultivation by Province, 2001/02 (area in '000 hectares, production in '000 tonnes)

 
Main crops
Winter-Spring Double crops
Province
Paddy
Maize
Potato (main crop)
Other cereals
Winter wheat
Spring Barley
Spring Potatoes
 
Area
Prod.
Area
Prod.
Area
Prod.
Area
Prod.
Area
Prod.
Area
Prod.
Area
Prod.
Pyongyang1/
26.3
105.2
14.0
43.4
0.8
8.9
0.5
0.6
3.0
6.2
2.7
4.5
1.1
7.2
South Pyongan
96.7
367.3
61.2
183.7
6.7
78.0
3.1
4.0
7.7
15.8
6.1
10.4
14.7
89.5
North Pyongan
101.2
384.4
87.0
261.1
11.0
109.3
6.2
6.8
3.5
7.2
3.7
6.2
11.8
72.3
Changang
7.0
21.7
36.7
110.0
1.4
17.4
5.2
5.9
0.1
0.2
0.9
1.4
2.8
17.2
South Hwanghae
147.2
588.9
80.0
248.0
16.1
202.5
5.7
7.4
18.7
38.3
10.8
18.4
20.9
127.2
North Hwanghae
47.0
141.0
69.4
208.2
5.2
57.4
1.7
2.0
9.6
19.7
5.8
9.9
14.0
85.6
Kangwon2/
34.7
76.2
36.6
99.0
2.7
24.6
2.4
3.1
4.7
9.6
1.8
3.1
8.9
54.4
South Hamgyong2/
59.2
201.3
48.0
144.0
7.4
120.5
9.5
12.8
4.0
8.2
1.7
2.9
20.9
127.2
North Hamgyong
24.5
73.4
47.0
136.3
11.9
195.4
3.8
4.3
       
1.7
10.7
Ryanggang
1.9
5.7
3.4
9.6
22.5
436.6
22.0
25.4
           
Kaesong
11.6
41.7
6.0
17.4
0.6
6.0
0.7
0.7
2.7
5.4
0.7
1.1
0.7
4.3
Nampo
14.8
53.4
7.0
20.9
2.5
23.5
1.1
1.1
3.3
6.8
1.6
2.7
1.1
6.9
Total
572.0
2 060.2
496.3
1 481.6
89.0
1 280.0
61.9
74.3
57.3
117.4
35.6
60.6
98.7
602.3
1/ Municipality
2/ Mission figures adjusted to take account of the flood damage to crops on 9 and 10 October.

Table 4: DPR Korea - Cereal area and production, 2001/02

 
Area
(`000 ha)
Yield
(t/ha)
Production
(`000 tonnes)
Paddy
572
3.6
2 060
Milled equivalent1/
   
1 339
Maize
496
3.0
1 482
Potato total
of which:
188
10.0
1 882
- Potato 2001 main crop
89
14.4
1 280
- Spring Potato (double crop 2002)
99
6.1
602
- In cereal equivalent2/
   
471
Wheat and Barley double cropped 2001/02
93
1.9
178
Other cereals and grains
62
 
74
Total Cereal Production (rice milled, potato in cereal equivalent)
1 411
 
3 544
1/ Milling rate 65 percent
2/ Potato converted to cereal equivalent at 25 percent

3.5 Livestock

In the wake of the serious food shortages, the general Government policy for the livestock sector is to discourage mono-gastric animals which require grains for feed and to encourage increased ruminant herds, particularly goats and rabbits.

The official estimates indicate that following a significant decrease in livestock numbers in 1997 in the aftermath of disastrous floods, there has been a positive turnaround in the number of all livestock species, except oxen and sheep (Table 5)

Table 5: DPR Korea - Livestock population, 1996-2001 ('000 head)

 
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
% Change 2001 over 1996
Oxen
615
545
565
577
579
570
-7.3
Pigs
2 674
1 859
2 475
2 970
3 120
3 137
17.3
Sheep
248
160
165
185
185
189
-23.8
Goats
712
1 077
1 508
1 900
2 276
2 566
260.4
Rabbits
3 056
2 740
2 795
5 202
11 475
19 455
536.6
Chicken
8 871
7 547
8 965
10 371
14 844
15 804
78.2
Duck
1 098
822
1 372
1624
2 078
3 158
187.6
Geese
554
357
462
829
889
1 090
96.8

 

4. FOOD SUPPLY/DEMAND OUTLOOK, 2001/02 (November/October)

4.1 Coping mechanisms

The capacity of DPR Korea to ensure an adequate provision of food to its population continues to be beset by persisting economic problems faced by the country, severely constraining its ability to import food and the continued poor performance of the agricultural sector due to shortages of agricultural inputs compounded by erratic/adverse weather conditions. The continuing severe food shortages over the past several years have led to the virtual exhaustion of coping possibilities at various levels - the national, provincial and household. Unless there is substantial improvement in the country's overall economic situation, DPR Korea will remain unable to import much food or agricultural machinery and other inputs to enable the country's high-input agricultural system to improve its performance very much. Given persistent food shortages over the past six years, the national authorities, local administrations and cooperatives have been seeking to mobilize resources and human effort as much as possible and there is not a great deal more that they can possibly do in this regard. The households have been utilizing their tiny family plots as best as possible in producing vegetables, potatoes, etc. and in rearing rabbits, pigs, chickens, goats, etc. Many participate in informal food markets. Many have also been eating the very poor quality "alternative" foods. In almost all directions, limits have virtually been reached. The continuing food shortages have been increasing the vulnerability of the country to widescale hunger and deprivation.

4.2 Cereal supply/demand balance, 2001/02 (Nov/Oct)

In drawing the cereal supply/demand balance for 2001/02 the following assumptions and parameters have been used:

· A population of about 23.5 million in mid-2001/02 marketing year, obtained by applying an annual growth rate of 1.5 percent to last year's population of 23.18 million.

· A consumption requirement of 100kg/caput of rice and 67 kg/caput of maize per annum is used, which provides about 1600 Kcal or 75 percent of the daily calorie requirement of 2130 Kcal/day/person.

· The seed requirement for 2002 crops has been estimated using the following assumptions:

- Paddy: 150 kg/ha (97.5 kg of rice) for 580 000 ha = 56 550 tonnes
- Maize: 45 kg/ha for 496 000 ha = 22 320 tonnes.
- Potato: 1000 kg/ha (250kg in cereal equivalent) for 187 700 ha = 46 925 tonnes
- Wheat and Barley: 200 kg/ha for 93 000 ha = 18 600 tonnes

· Post harvest losses of 15 percent in view of persistent problems of transport and threshing and poor storage facilities, which this year have been exacerbated by heavy rains in early October.

· Other uses at 3 percent of the total availability.

· Although overall livestock numbers are increasing, the emphasis is more on goats and less on cattle. Yet oxen appears to remain at about the same level as last year; these animals are growing in importance in farming operations which were previously mechanised such as ploughing and transport. In view of this importance adequate provision for livestock upkeep is necessary. Feed use of grains, therefore, is estimated at 300 000 tonnes, as used by the Mission last year.

· Paddy to rice milling rate of 65 percent as used by previous FAO/WFP Missions; cereal equivalent of potato is computed at 25 percent of the tuber volume.

· In view of chronic foreign exchange shortages which constrained commercial import of cereals to only about 43 000 tonnes in 2000/01, commercial food imports in 2001/02 are projected at 100 000 tonnes due to signs of some recovery in economy.

The cereal balance sheet for the 1999-2000 marketing year (Nov/Oct) based on the above calculations is outlined in Table 6.

Table 6: DPR Korea: Cereal balance sheet for 2001/02 (Nov/Oct)

 
(`000 tonnes)
DOMESTIC AVAILABILITY
3 544
Stock drawdown
-
Domestic Production
3 544
TOTAL UTILIZATION
5 011
Food use
3 929
Feed use
300
Seed requirements
144
Other uses and post harvest losses
638
IMPORT REQUIREMENT
1 467
Commercial import capacity
100
Uncovered deficit
1 367
of which emergency food aid pledged
331 0001/

 

1/ The pipeline for delivery in November and December 2001 amounts to 131 000 tonnes, and China has pledged 200 000 tonnes for delivery during 2001/02.

The total cereal import requirement in 2001/02 is estimated at 1.47 million tonnes, and the uncovered deficit of 1.37 million tonnes, even if the anticipated commercial imports materialize. The unconfirmed food aid pledges to date amount to 331 000 tonnes. The uncovered deficit is large and must be viewed very seriously. It needs to be emphasized that unless the international community responds positively and substantially, millions of people of DPR Korea, including large numbers of children, old people and pregnant women and lactating mothers, will face hunger over prolonged periods with severe consequences for their health and welfare.

Table 7 shows the province-wise cereal balance. Only one province out of a total of 12 has a small surplus, while the other eleven mostly face severe food shortages.

Table 7: DPR Korea: Cereal Surplus/Deficit by Province, 2001/02 (`000 tonnes)

Province
Rice (milled)
Maize
Other Cereals
Potato
Cereal Equivalent
Total Cereals
Cereal production available for food 1/
Population 2/ (`000)
Cereal Consumption
3/
Surplus/ Deficit
Pyongyang
68
43
11
4
127
89
3 175
530
-441
South Pyongan
239
184
30
42
495
344
3 234
540
-196
North Pyongan
250
261
20
45
577
400
2 738
457
-57
Changang
14
110
8
9
140
97
1 285
215
-118
South Hwanghae
383
248
64
82
777
539
2 390
399
140
North Hwanghae
92
208
32
36
367
255
1 809
302
-47
Kangwon
50
99
16
20
184
129
1 530
256
-127
South Hamgyong
131
144
24
62
361
251
3 058
511
-260
North Hamgyong
48
136
4
52
240
167
2 323
388
-221
Ryanggang
4
10
25
109
148
102
733
122
-20
Kaesong
27
17
7
3
54
38
403
67
-29
Nampo
35
21
11
8
74
51
849
142
-91
Total
1 340
1 482
252
471
3 544
2 462
23 527
3 929
-1 467
1/ Cereal production available for food after deduction of feed, seed, post-harvest losses and other uses.
2/ Official population figures projected to mid-2001/02 using official annual growth rate of 1.5 percent.
3/ At 167 kg of cereals per-caput/annum.

5. Food Aid Needs and Role of Food Assistance

5.1 Household Food Availability

The food access status of the majority of the population of DPR Korea has been maintained at reasonable levels over the past seven years, due to massive food aid contributions in addition to the coping mechanisms adopted by the government and the people. There are, however, regional differences in the physical access to food produced within food deficit regions; and a disparity in economic access due to parallel markets for food. There remains a substantial food gap at the national level and household food security remains critical for a large number of households, especially in urban areas.

For rural households the food supply situation is relatively better than urban households, since the official food allocation to farming households is 210 kg/person/year (260 kg in unmilled grain); and that more than covers basic requirements. Rural households also have easier access to additional food through the cultivation of private plots and the rearing of animals.

For urban households, the base allocation was 72 kg per person during the 2000/01 (November to October) marketing year. According to the government, the food aid allocations through the PDS added another 52 kg/person to this amount, although the distribution of this food to individuals and households varied according to the targeting criteria applied. . Rural cooperative farms now seem to use less urban workers for harvesting activities, thereby reducing in-kind payments to this workforce. The average urban dweller, however, seems to have consumed more than the 124 kg/year implied by the Government figures otherwise there would be signs of famine, which is not the case for the majority of the population.

Average figures based on official estimates and planning figures mask the fact that access to food remains uneven for large population groups, who either live in under-supplied regions or who happen not to have access to special food outlets, family support or targeted food aid programmes. Some additional food supplies must have reached urban centres from rural areas, through family support. Farmers are unlikely to consume their entire allocation themselves, especially when they supplement their food availability through production of mainly vegetables and small animals.

The mission assumes that about one-third of the urban population lives near to rural areas and therefore has easier access to additional food resources. A further 3-4 million of the urban population may benefit from additional, official food allocations because of their category of employment (according to the Government, some 767 000 workers with particular heavy workloads receive 256 kg/person/year).

This would leave some 6-8 million people, for whom the yearly availability of cereals from official resources may be well below the minimum requirements. A large part of these most vulnerable people live in the food deficit, industrial areas in the north of the country, where industrial activity has largely stopped and where very limited options exist to cultivate private plots or to engage in barter trade for food. These people resort to coping mechanisms such as harvesting wild foods, when available, and cutting firewood for sale or barter. Their food situation becomes particularly critical during the lean season, when the PDS-distributions are reduced due to the lack of local supplies and when alternative foods and vegetables are not available. The needs of the group, as well as the additional needs of the nutritionally vulnerable groups, is the priority to be addressed by targeted food assistance, with bilateral food aid and concessional imports covering mainly the national supply deficit..

5.2 Assessment of Nutritional Requirements

To assess food needs, the present and past FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions to DPR Korea, have used a yardstick of 167 kg/caput year to provide 75 percent of a minimum calorie requirement of 2 130 kcal. For emergency operations, WHO and WFP, however, normally calculate the calorie requirements taking into account the rule by which 100kcal is added for every 5 degrees centigrade below 20 degrees centigrade4/. As average temperature in DPRK is 11 degrees centigrade, the increase would thus be 200 kcal or a total of 2 300 kcal. Moreover, there might be higher requirements for nutritional rehabilitation for children and for women of child-bearing age. A nutrition survey would provide the basis for making such judgements. The Government has agreed that a joint WFP/UNICEF/Government nutrition survey be carried out to follow up the nutrition survey of 1998. The modalities of the survey are to be agreed by the end of the year, with the survey itself to be conducted in 2002.

According to UNICEF, there has been a slight improvement in the figures for acute malnourishment. Even so, still about 40 percent of the children under five years in DPRK are malnourished. This, coupled with the high rate of malnutrition among mothers, is the rationale for WFP directing about 90 percent of its assistance to women and children.

5.3 Food Aid Needs and Targeting of Food Assistance for the 2001/02 Agricultural Year

The overall supply deficit calculated by the Mission is about 1.47 million tonnes of cereals, out of which up to 100 000 tonnes could be covered by commercial imports. Targeted food aid, which is calculated as the aggregate food deficit of particularly vulnerable households, is estimated by WFP to be 546 000 tonnes of cereals and 51 000 tonnes of other food items. The balance will need to be met by bilateral aid and concessional food imports.

For the targeted food assistance, WFP intends to provide nutritional support to children, pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly. There will be less general need during 2001/02 to support the rural population due to the improvement of domestic food production. Priority therefore will be given to the urban population and, in particular, to those living in food insecure areas of the country.

WFP will continue to use a combination of targeting mechanisms - beneficiary category, geographic and seasonal. Beneficiary categories include all pregnant/nursing mothers, children, aged six months to six years, and primary school children. They will receive assistance throughout the year. Secondary school children aged 11-16 in urban areas of the six most food insecure provinces will also receive food assistance throughout the year. Some 50 percent of the elderly in urban centres in the same six provinces will also receive food assistance during five months of the agricultural lean season when PDS supplies are typically most tight. Food for work activities are carried out during four months of the year by under/unemployed urban workers when the scope for outside work exists and the demand for labour is low, thereby avoiding disruption to the usual agricultural work pattern. The contingency planning activities, planned to cover a three-month period, are designed to meet assistance needs during the regularly recurring natural disasters such as floods. The outcome is likely to be a relatively greater share of WFP assistance being directed to the North East of the country. Sharper targeting addressing specific nutritional problems will be possible only after the proposed nutrition survey has been completed.

The estimated number of beneficiaries is given in Table 8.

Table 8: DPR Korea - Food aid beneficiaries

Category
Estimated numbers
Children 0.5 - 4 years
1 400 000
Kindergarten 5 - 6 years
650 000
Primary schools 7 - 10 years
1 400 000
Secondary schools 11 - 16 years
675 000
Elderly persons
365 000
Pregnant/Nursing Women
350 000
Food for work1/
Additional Lean Season (Care Givers)
300 000
145 000
Contingency
250 000
TOTAL
5 535 000
1/ If family members were included the total number would be 1.2 million.

The total food aid requirement of these beneficiary groups is estimated to be about 610 000 tonnes, out of which about 525 000 tonnes are cereals.

Nurseries and kindergartens will receive direct deliveries. Food distributions to most of the remaining beneficiaries will take place through the Public Distribution Centres (PDCs). About 40 percent of the distribution to primary and secondary schools will be in the form of biscuits, manufactured under a WFP-sponsored scheme for the local production of enriched food.

The local production of enriched foods under the WFP-scheme has not reached its full potential, mainly due to difficulties in the supply of energy and packaging materials, and logistic problems typical for the DPRK industrial environment. It is estimated that during 2002, the following output will be achieved:

Biscuits 17 000 tonnes
Blended Foods 18 000 tonnes
Fortified Noodles 8 500 tonnes

5.4 Monitoring

WFP assistance is provided in 167 of the 211 counties to which it has access for assessment and monitoring. This is four more than last year. WFP has six offices in DPRK, the main office is in Pyongyang, and five sub-offices are located in other provinces, including in the more remote north-eastern provinces. Out of 56 international staff, more than 30 are dedicated to programming and monitoring of assistance. Averages of 350-400 monitoring visits are carried out each month. Visits are made to local counterpart offices, public distribution centres, children's institutions, schools and beneficiary families, and food for work sites. WFP has introduced a more simplified monitoring system that places emphasis on qualitative indicators and provides an improved knowledge base on the food security situation in the country. With this new system, continuous assessment of needs is incorporated into daily monitoring activities.

Considerable progress has been made over the years in the monitoring of the distribution of WFP assistance. Even so, the restrictions placed by the Government on WFP's monitoring need to be relaxed so that the monitoring of WFP assistance can be further improved. The Government has agreed to provide WFP with a list of all beneficiary institutions. It has further agreed that for each monitoring visit within a county, WFP will identify a long list of institutions, from which it will actually visit a lesser number. This will provide a greater degree of randomness in the monitoring process. These measures are to be implemented within the timeframe of this Operation. This arrangement represents a further step forward in the monitoring procedures agreed with the Government.

6. MEDIUM AND LONG TERM MEASURES

Chronic difficulties, brought on by economic problems and recurring natural hazards continue to seriously undermine domestic production and food security in the country. Sustainable food security of DPR Korea critically depends on the revival of he economy and rehabilitation of the agriculture sector. Therefore, overall economic development including agricultural rehabilitation needs to be emphasized and facilitated to enable DPR Korea to increase its capacity to improve and eventually ensure food security for all its citizens. Obviously, this cannot be achieved quickly - medium and longer term perspectives and measures need to be formulated and put in place. The process must start without further loss of time as it has been over a decade now that the country's economy has been declining, and since the mid-1990s the country has been dependent on large-scale international food assistance to meet food gaps every year.

The Mission supports all appropriate interventions/measures towards improving DPR Korea's economic circumstances and its food security situation, including the following:

· Targeted development assistance towards rehabilitating prospective industries including fertilizer, farm equipment and spares, and those with export potential.
· Integrated water management focusing on various water uses, including irrigation, industrial and drinking water as well as on flood and drought management.
· Environmental rehabilitation and sustainable natural resource management, including soil quality protection and enhancement, reforestation, and promotion of bio-fertilizer production.
· Crop diversification and crop rotation to reduce the adverse consequences of mono-cropping and to hedge against crop losses in any one year due to adverse weather conditions.
· Research and development of integrated crop and livestock systems.
· A detailed land-use study is necessary to update the availability of land for various purposes.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid

Chief,GIEWS FAO

Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495

E-mail:giews1@fao.org

John M. Powell

Regional Director, ODB , WFP

Fax: 0066-2-655-4414

E-mail: John.Powell@wfp.org

 

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1 / Rice in milled terms and potatoes in cereal equivalent.

2 / The number of growing days of maize varieties grown in DPRK range from 90 to 150 days, the most common being 120 days. Most of the maize grown are hybrids, while OPV are sown in the mountainous areas. Popular hybrids are Hwasong 1, Hwangzu 3, Unsan 5 and Pyongan 6. These varieties, when good weather and cropping conditions are available, are capable of yielding 5-6 tonnes on average.

3 / Historically in DPR Korea, O. Japonica and Japonica cross varieties of paddy are grown, with growth periods of 130-180 days, the majority having about 150 days cycle. The main paddy varieties grown are: Pyongyang 4,15,18, 21, 22 and Hamju 3. Hybrids have been developed only at research level. At present, 70 percent of the cultivated varieties are of the high yielding type, while the remainder are improved traditional varieties. Average yields of 6-7 tonnes / hectare are reported as viable, the range being from 4 to 10 t/hectare. The short cycle varieties (120-130 days) used in DPRK are yield penalised and availability of seed is scarce. Adequate short cycle varieties are thus needed as the pressure for double cropping increases. There is scope for research enhancement in this direction.

4 / Based on WHO technical report no. 724, Energy and Protein Requirements, Report of a joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation, published in 1985. Ref. WHO "The Management of Nutrition in Major Emergencies" 2000.