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

24 July 2000

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1. OVERVIEW

Although there are encouraging signs that the relaxation of trade and economic sanctions imposed on DPR Korea and prospects of greater economic interaction with other countries in the region, will undoubtedly have a positive impact on longer term food security in the country, the current food supply situation still remains precarious, particularly amongst vulnerable groups. Approaching its sixth year of food shortages, therefore, the country still requires large scale food assistance to ensure adequate nutritional standards, especially for children, pregnant women and the elderly. The period between May/June and October is crucial to food supply prospects as it corresponds to the beginning of the lean food supply period, when food stocks are traditionally at their lowest, and also the start of the main crop season on which the country depends heavily for domestic food production. Crop losses, as in 1995 to 1997 due to natural disasters, therefore can have a devastating effect on food availability. In view of the importance of this period, a joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited DPR Korea from 20 June to 1 July, to review the situation in relation to available food supplies, the nutritional health of the population and early prospects for 2000 production. The mission also had an opportunity of reviewing findings of an earlier assessment mission in October last year at the time of the main harvest, at which time a projection was made for food supply prospects for the 1999/2000 marketing year (Nov/Oct). The findings of the Mission are based on discussions with Government Ministries and Departments, UN and bilateral agencies and NGOs operating in the country as well as on field visits to selected areas. During the current mission field visits were made to main producing areas in the south west, the country's "bread basket", and to the north east. The provinces visited included the municipality of Pyongyang, south and north Hwanghae, south Hamyong and Kangwon. In addition to assessing the state of food crops, a number of institutions such as PDS distribution centres, hospitals, kindergartens and nurseries, where food aid is primarily targeted, were also visited. Random visits to individual households were also made to evaluate consumption patterns and coping strategies.

As part of a wider regional phenomenon, which also affected other countries in South East Asia, including China, rainfall in the run-up to the main 2000 season in DPR Korea was erratic and noticeably below average. This adversely affected soil moisture levels for the double crops of barley and wheat, which resulted in reduction in yields. In addition lower precipitation this year, coupled with below normal rainfall in 1999, especially during the main rainy season June to August, also reduced water availability for replenishment of irrigation reservoirs, which are essential for crops, particularly at the early stages of growth before the onset of the main rainy season. Irrigation reserves were additionally affected this year by severe shortage of electricity, and persistent mechanical breakdowns, due to which water from perennial rivers could not be pumped into reservoirs. All reservoirs visited, were observed to be highly depleted with some almost entirely dry. At the time of the mission's visit up to 1 July, therefore, despite some rainfall at the end of June, the overall water situation was assessed to be extremely poor.

As a result of below normal rainfall and reduced water supplies from irrigation reservoirs, the mission observed that many rice fields were dry whilst maize, especially on higher grounds was stressed and in some areas being replanted. In all areas visited significant delays were observed in transplanting of rice, which should normally end by mid June Although farmers were waiting for rains to initiate planting, there will undoubtedly be a decline in productivity as the seedlings used for transplanting would be much older than optimal. The reduction in growing period will also reduce yields. Where water shortages were particularly severe, co-operative farms had substituted rice for maize, sorghum, millet and vegetables. The condition of crops in such areas, however, was observed to be generally poor. Observations regarding the poor general state of crops are substantiated by satellite spot imagery, which indicates that the relative level of vegetative cover in important agricultural areas was considerably lower in May and June this year compared to 1999.

Additionally, the temperature pattern since the end of the 1999 crop season last November indicates that last winter was much colder than normal with temperatures between November and March noticeably below normal. Whilst temperatures in April and May returned to more normal levels, many farmers reported that spring was generally delayed this year, especially in the north and north east, delaying development and maturation of double crops and planting/transplanting of main crops. Overall therefore, early prospects for food grain production this year are poor and any recovery will depend heavily on the performance of rainfall during July and August. The latest information, however, from the country, indicates that as at mid July there had been no significant improvement in rainfall, whilst temperatures remained above normal.

The area planted under double crop wheat and barley was 89 000 hectares, significantly, some 28 percent, below the target of 123 000 hectares planned for this year. Partly due to a late spring and poor rainfall productivity was also reduced averaging an estimated 1.7 tonnes per hectare. The area under potatoes, on the other hand increased to 187 000 hectares, of which some 98 000 hectares were planted as a double crop. Based on estimates of rice and maize production made by the last FAO/WFP mission in October 1999, and taking into account barley, wheat and potato1 production from this year's double crop, 1999/2000 cereal availability has been revised to 3.420 million tonnes, some 52 000 tonnes or 1.5 percent below the mission estimate last year. Against this, utilisation needs, including food, feed and other uses (seed and waste) are assessed at 4.751 million tonnes, leaving an import requirement of 1.33 million tonnes for the 1999/2000 marketing year. Of this requirement, it is estimated that commercial imports during the marketing year will be around 210 000 tonnes, whilst food aid imports, already delivered and in the pipeline, amount to a further 586 000 tonnes2. Based on these revisions, therefore, the uncovered import requirement for 1999/2000 marketing year to the end of October 2000, is estimated at 535 000 tonnes.

Despite persistent food shortages, the mission finds that the overall food situation in the country is less precarious, particularly in comparison to 1996 and 1997, which were perhaps the worst years for food shortages in the country, when production was severely reduced. To a considerable extent the stability and improvement in overall food security is attributed to large scale and well executed food aid intervention to the most vulnerable social groups, particularly children and the elderly. Purposeful targeting to take into account geographical and social considerations have also helped lessen differences in food consumption. In particular this has included increasing food aid rations to north-eastern provinces (north and south Hamyong), which are agriculturally less important and where the non-agricultural population is relatively higher.

Certainly the benefits of targeted food assistance to institutions such as schools and nurseries are clear. In the short term, until the economy and the agricultural sector recover, to enable more assured food supplies, humanitarian intervention will continue to be needed to maintain food security. With respect to longer term food concerns, recent developments which could lead to improved economic prospects in DPR Korea include the following;

These attempts to enhance relations with other countries demonstrate in part DPR Korea's efforts to revitalise its economy with a view to ensuring greater food security. The humanitarian programme can only aim to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable, through the provision of food-aid, agricultural inputs and capacity-building in the health, water and sanitation sectors. Medium-term development activities by UN agencies and NGOs, focus around the Government's Agricultural Rehabilitation and Environmental Protection Programme (AREP) which aims to enhance the production of food. DPR Korea's second Thematic Round-Table, hosted jointly by the Government and the UNDP and focussing on agricultural recovery, took place on 20 and 21 June 2000 in Geneva. However, overall donor response, has not been encouraging, so far.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) is becoming less crucial in the household food economy, for PDS recipients, than hitherto. Currently it is estimated that the PDS provides around one third of cereal needs, with the remainder coming from various other sources including direct province to province transfers, arrangements between co-operative farms and industries and farmers markets. In 1999/2000, the flow of cereals through the PDS, relative to previous years, also improved with supplies continuing into May/June, whilst in 1998/99 these ceased in April. Total PDS rations from October 1999 to June this year amounted to around 65 kg/per caput.

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2. EARLY PROSPECTS FOR 2000 CROP PRODUCTION

Agriculture in DPR Korea is naturally limited by the amount of land available for food production (some 20 percent) and climate which restricts cultivation to only one principal agricultural season per year. In the last decade, production was further constrained by chronic fertilizer and energy shortages, whilst natural disasters between 1995 and 1997, further compounded these underlying problems. In normal years, the agricultural season extends roughly 150-180 frost-free days from May to October, during which most rainfall is received in the three months spanning June to August. The performance of rainfall during these months is of immense importance, not only because of the direct effect on crops but also because it conditions the level of water replenishment in important irrigation reservoirs, which provide critical supplies at seed bed and land preparation at the beginning of the following agricultural season. The natural disasters (floods and drought) referred to above, also occurred during these months. Uneven distribution and unreliability of rainfall makes irrigation necessary, though in the run up to the 2000 crop year, as in the recent past, severe energy shortages also limited operations in many lift irrigation systems that rely on electricity for pumping.

In view of long term mono cropping, there has been extensive nutrient mining of soils, which has meant that increasing doses of fertilizer are required to maintain adequate productivity. Although the use of organic fertilizers has had some beneficial long term effects, the overall impact has been limited given the present, poor, state of soils and plant needs. The risk of erosion in uplands and the problems may be further exacerbated by continuing cultivation (in desperate need to produce food) and foraging by an increasing population of goats, which have been encouraged as an important protein source and substitute for grain consuming animals.

A summary of average climatic conditions and principal cropping patterns is given in Table 1 below.

Overall, during its assessment, the mission observed a number of positive and negative factors affecting early prospects for 2000 crop production. On the positive side, the improved availability of fertilizers, fuel and tractors was undoubtedly beneficial, whilst the lack of rainfall and irrigation water, coupled with high temperatures and a higher incidence of pest attack were highly counter productive.

2.1 Rainfall, Water Availability and Temperature

With continuation of possible El Nino and La Lina weather effects in the region, which also resulted in serious drought in a number of other countries, including China, rainfall in the run-up to the main 2000 season was erratic and below normal in DPR Korea. Although rainfall in January was higher, that in the subsequent months fell noticeably below average. This adversely affected soil moisture levels for the double crops of barley and wheat, which resulted in reduction in yields. In addition lower precipitation this year, coupled with below normal rainfall in 1999, especially during the main rainy season June to August, also reduced water availability for replenishment of irrigation reservoirs, which are essential for crops, particularly at the early stages of growth before the onset of the main rainy season. ( See figures 1 to 3).

Table 1: Crop calendar and agro-climatic patterns1

 
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rainfall (mm)
14.1
12.5
28.3
53.2
62.5
90.9
281.7
247.9
109.1
42.2
36.7
21.3
Avg. Temp. (° C)
-4.2°
-3.0°
+2.4°
+9.3°
+14.7°
+19.4
+23.2°
+23.4°
+19.2°
+12.8°
+5.4°
-2.0°
Rice
   
S
T
T
     
H
   
Maize
     
S
T
     
H
     
Winter Wheat2
         
H
H
 
S
     
Winter Barley2
         
H
H
 
S
     
Spring Wheat
 
S
   
H
           
Spring Barley
 
S
   
H
           
Potatoes
     
S
S
S / H
 
H
H
     
Vegetables
   
S
S
S H
S H
H
S H
H
H
   

1 long-term average data from Onchon South Pyongan Province (Average rainfall distribution is national taken from earlier FAO/WFP assessments)
2 Indicates dormant period whilst the crop over winters. Sowing of winter barley and wheat is undertaken in Sept/Oct, after which the crop over-winters till the following spring, when it emerges for harvest in June/July.
S = Sowing; T = Transplanting ; H = Harvesting.

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The level of water in irrigation reservoirs was additionally affected this year by the severe shortage of electricity, and persistent mechanical breakdowns, which meant that water from perennial rivers could not be pumped into reservoirs, as is normally the case. The government also reported that despite a colder winter generally, snow melt was lower in 1999/2000 than normal, which adversely affected water levels in rivers. All reservoirs visited, by the mission, were observed to be highly depleted with some almost entirely dry. The competition for water between agriculture and human consumption also meant that reserves were being retained for domestic use. At the time of the mission's visit up to 1 July, therefore, despite some rainfall at the end of June, the overall water situation was observed to be extremely poor, which had the following implications for agriculture:

Additionally, the temperature pattern since the end of the 1999 crop season last November indicates that last winter was much colder than normal with temperatures between November and early March noticeably below normal. (See figure 4). Whilst temperatures in April and May were slightly above normal, many farmers reported that spring was generally delayed this year, especially in the north, north east, delaying development and maturation of double crops and planting/transplanting of main crops. In addition, although a colder winter, should have ensured a lower incidence of pests this year, killing many soil borne pests, on the whole the incidence of pest damage, particularly in the eastern provinces was observed to be higher. Climatic conditions have been more favourable for infestations of maize armyworm (Leucania Separata) and stem/corn borer (Ostrinia Furnacalis) than in the past few years. In some areas it is estimated that potential maize yields could be reduced by around 20 percent by pest infestation. In response, FAO with donor assistance, will supply some 30 000 litres of pesticides (Deltramethrin EC 25) during July, to treat 90 000 hectares once or 45 000 hectares twice. More is needed however, given the probability of further outbreaks.

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2.2 Fertilizers

The shortage of cultivable land in DPR Korea, coupled with climatic restrictions on the number of crops that can be planted in any year, has necessitated an intensive form of agriculture dependent on mechanisation, irrigation and high input use. In general, nutrient mining of soils, where more nutrients are removed by successive crops than replaced through organic and chemical fertilizers is high, leading to problems of low productivity. The problem of soil depletion and low nutrient content has been exacerbated by insufficient systems of crop rotation, including fertility-enhancing crops like legumes and leaving land fallow to recoup fertility. Although organic fertilizers are applied, they would be more effective if used with chemical fertilizers and crop rotations in integrated plant nutrient systems. Such systems, therefore, need to be considered as medium to long-term measures and need to be developed further in accordance with the country's resource base and its specific needs. In the interim, to meet food demands, crop production remains heavily dependent on chemical fertilizer in particular nitrogen, which is mostly applied in the form of Urea, and potassium. The level of phosphate needed is generally less critical, as soil deficiency in the nutrient is less pronounced.

The manufacture, import and, hence, availability of chemical fertilizers, however, has declined markedly in the last decade, averaging 170 000 tonnes of nutrients (N, P and K) in the period 1995-1999. Moreover, in addition to lower volumes of fertilizer used currently, the lack of balanced nutrient application based on soil tests and recommendations, has also meant that overall fertilizer efficiency has also declined with an adverse effect on productivity. To enhance food production in the country double cropping of wheat and barley has steadily become important. However, although these additional crops provide and an invaluable source of grain during the lean season, their cultivation has put additional strain on soil nutrients. Consequently, fertilizer demand by subsequent maize and rice crops is higher, which compounds the need for more fertilizer.

The annual requirement of fertilizer nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), in DPR Korea is estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture at around 700 000 tonnes of nutrients, to maintain adequate levels of productivity. In view of nutrient mining and additional use of soil nutrients by double crops, however, the level is likely to have risen in recent years. For the 2000 cropping programme, fertilizer availability, in nutrient equivalent, is estimated at 210 000 tonnes, including 28 300 tonnes through domestic production and the remaining 181 700 tonnes through commercial imports and bilateral and international fertilizer assistance. Of overall nutrient availability, 88 percent was nitrogen, 7 percent potash and 5 percent potassium.

Compared to 1999, the relative fertilizer situation has improved slightly with a 5 percent increase in nutrient availability. (See figure 5). Despite the continued improvement, however, the overall situation still remains considerably below needs, based on the nutrient status of soils and the need to enhance productivity.

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2.3 Target 2000 Crop Area

The Government reports that the 2000 target planned area for rice has been reduced to some 568 000 hectares, compared to 580 000 hectares last year, partly as a result of the substitution of rice by other crops. The planned area under maize remains at the reduced level of 496 000, which is considerably below the area planted normally up to two years ago. The main reasons given for the decline is substitution of maize by potatoes, in poor maize yielding areas, which have increased from an average of around 40 000 hectares in the past to 187 000 hectares this year. The mission was not able to obtain full details of the level of hillside cultivation.

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3. 2000 DOUBLE CROPPING PROGRAMME AND POTATOES

Given the constraints faced by DPR Korea in producing grains and to augment domestic production, a joint programme by UN agencies and the Government was introduced in 1996 to develop double crops of winter wheat and spring barley. The objective of the programme is to make optimal use of the period between early March, when winter thaw occurs, and May/June when planting of summer paddy and maize need to be completed. Initially the programme was for spring barley production, but was subsequently expanded in 1998 to include autumn/winter wheat and barley cultivation. Results of the 1997, 1998 and 1999 programmes were generally positive, as a result of which the target area for 2000 was raised to 123 000 hectares, compared to planted area of around 116 000 hectares the year before. However, this year the actual planted area of double crop wheat and barley was around 89 000 hectares, which fell considerably short (by 28 percent) of target. Of this area, approximately 55 300 hectares were wheat and the remaining 33 700 spring barley. Yields of the double crop wheat and barley are also likely to fall short of the 2 tonnes/ha expected, due to delays in maturation and lack of precipitation and water, and are likely to average around 1.7 tonnes/ha.

To address food shortages, the Government in 1999, with international support, introduced an initiative to increase the production of potatoes both under mono and double cropping systems. As a result, some 170 000 hectares were planted, compared to an average of around 40 000 hectares in past years. The target for potatoes under mono and double systems was increased to 187 000 hectares, which was met. Average yields are estimated at around 10.5 tonnes/ha.

The comparison of area planted compared to targets by province of winter wheat, barley and potato is indicated in Table 2.

Table 2: Target and Actual Area Planted of Wheat, Barley and Potatoes. (Hectares)

Province
Winter Wheat and Barley,
Potato
 
Target
Actual
Target
Actual
Pyonyang
6 000
5 737
2 000
2 000
South Pyongan
12 000
11 715
22 000
22 000
North Pyongyan
7 000
7 081
22 000
22 000
Chagang
5 000
2 103
4 000
4 000
South Hawngae
26 000
26 067
37 000
37 000
North Hwangae
14 000
13 887
19 000
19 000
Kangwon
6 000
6 390
12 000
12 000
South Hamgyong
15 000
7 446
28 000
28 000
North Hamgyong
4 000
929
14 000
14 000
Ryanggang
20 000
0
22 000
22 000
Kaesong
4 000
4 121
1 000
1 000
Nampo
4 000
3 518
4 000
4 000
Total
123 000
88 994
187 000
187 000

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4. FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION

The FAO/WFP Mission last October estimated 1999/2000 cereal production at 3.47 million tonnes, including an estimate of some 241 000 tonnes from the 1999/00 double winter wheat and barley crop, 453 000 tonnes in cereal equivalent from this year's potato crop and 20 000 tonnes from other cereals, including sorghum and millets. In view of the decline in area planted of double crops and the reduction in yields, aggregate production from this year's crop is now estimated at 152 000 tonnes, whilst potato production is put at 490 000 tonnes in cereal equivalent. Aggregate 1999/00 cereal production, including production of rice and maize from the 1999 harvest, is therefore revised down to 3.42 million tonnes. See Table 3.

Table 3: DPR Korea: Cereal Area and Production, 1999/2000

Crop

Area ('000 ha)

Yield (t/ha)

Production ('000 tonnes)

Paddy

580

4.04

2 343

Maize

496

2.49

1 235

Potato (2000)

187

10.50

1 963

Wheat and Barley double cropped 99-00

89

1.7

152

Other cereals

20

1.0

20

Paddy in milled equivalent1/

   

1 523

Potato in cereal equivalent2/

   

490

Total Production (cereal equivalent)

   

3 420

1/ Milling rate of 65 percent.
2/ Potato to cereal equivalent 25 percent (4:1).

Detailed information on cereal imports are not available, whilst export data from China, which is the main source of imports does not fully capture important cross border transactions. The Ministry of Procurement and Food Administration estimates that some 70 000 tonnes of grain have been imported so far. Although the Ministry indicates that there are no further grain imports currently in the pipeline, the Mission assumes that at least a further 140 000 tonnes of imports will come from various sources, during the current marketing year, principally as cross border trade with China as demand pressure grows.

Food aid deliveries from 1 November 1999 to the end of May 2000 amounted to 429 933 tonnes of grains, including wheat flour in grain equivalent3. Scheduled (pipeline) cereal food aid deliveries from 1 June to 31 October 2000 are expected to amount to a further 155 513 tonnes, giving a total of 585 446 tonnes of grain for the 1999/2000 marketing year. The composition of cereal food aid deliveries and current pledges is indicated in figure 6.

Undisplayed Graphic

Source WFP Pyongyang:
Wheat includes wheat flour in grain equivalent.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) is becoming less crucial in the household food economy, for PDS recipients, than hitherto. Currently it is estimated that the PDS provides around of a third of cereal needs, with the remainder coming from various other sources including direct province to province transfers, arrangements between co-operative farms and industries, house hold transfers amongst relatives in rural and urban areas and farmers' markets. In 1999/2000, the flow of cereals through the PDS, relative to previous years, also improved with supplies continuing into May/June, whilst in 1998/99 these ceased in April. In 1999/2000 season PDS distribution were reasonably uniform throughout the country, with average daily per caput distribution amounting to October 320g, Nov-Jan 300 g, Feb. 250 g, March/April 200 g, May/June 23 = 150g. Between October and June altogether 65 kg/person had been distributed. Total PDS distribution was 890 000 tons.

4.1 Updated cereal supply/demand balance 1999/2000

Based on currently available information, the cereal balance sheet for 1999/2000 has been updated based on the following:

The revised cereal balance sheet for 1999/2000 is indicated in Table 4.

Table 4: DPR Korea - Cereal balance sheet November 1999 to October 2000 (`000 tonnes)

TOTAL AVAILABILITY
3 420
Cereal Production
2 930
Potato Production (in cereal equivalent)
490
Stock draw down
0
TOTAL UTILIZATION
4 751
Food use
3 814
Feed use
300
Other uses, seed and post harvest losses
637
IMPORT REQUIREMENT
1 331
Commercial import capacity
210
Emergency food aid (delivered and pipeline)
586
Uncovered deficit
535

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5. VULNERABILITY, COPING STRATEGIES AND HOUSEHOLD FOOD ACCESS

5.1 Role and Justification of Food Aid


The future focus of food aid needs to shift more from coverage of chronic deficits to addressing the needs of particular vulnerable groups and regions as well as to cover short term hunger-pockets caused by various natural and man-made factors.

As a result of two relatively stable agricultural seasons in 1998 and 1999, national food security has shown signs of improvement, certainly compared to the disaster prone years between 1995 and 1997. However, continued food assistance is essential and justified in the near future, especially given poor (early) prospects for domestic food production in 2000. The justification for such assistance would be;

5.2 Vulnerability

In addition to relative stability in cereal production in the last two years, targeted international food aid during 1999-2000, as in past years, has provided an invaluable safety net for vulnerable groups. Although recent developments aimed at revitalising the economy and improving the country's economic prospects are extremely encouraging for long term food security, the humanitarian food safety net needs to be continued to maintain basic nutritional standards, particularly amongst children and the elderly. In addition, sharp variations in vulnerability based on regional and localised differences in food supply still persist, despite an overall improvement amongst groups such as farm families, particularly in south west provinces, which are relatively better off. Families of Industrial and non-agricultural workers in the east (North and South Hamgyong, and Kangwon), and particularly those in the north east (North and South Hamgyong) remain the most vulnerable. In general, factors accentuating food supply problems include: dense population concentrations; scarcity of good agricultural land; colder climate and shorter growing season in the east and the northern mountainous areas; concentrations of industrial, mining and office workers, distance from the sea, forests, or other sources of wild food.

The safety net provided by international food aid has been largely uniform in its coverage of vulnerable groups. Last year, WFP, with the Government support, responded to regional and other variations in vulnerability by providing broader coverage and larger rations in provinces identified as more at risk to food shortages.

5.3 Food Aid Distribution and local Food Processing

WFP has embarked on a programme to rehabilitate local food processing facilities. The objectives of this activity are to provide adequate micronutrients fortified commodities for vulnerable groups, to manufacture suitable foods for the target groups and to rehabilitate eroding industries using local inputs (management, labour, and energy). By the end of 2000, a total of 16 factories will be rehabilitated with an annual capacity of 75 000 tonnes. Foods include CSB for nurseries, biscuits for primary school children and noodles for pregnant and nursing women. All commodities are fully fortified with a vitamin / mineral supplement provided by UNICEF.

The first CSB factory started in April 1999, manufactured over 5 000 tonnes by July 2000. Two more CSB factories are under construction. Biscuit production commenced mid in 1999 at present 5 factories are operational; output till July will amount to around 5 500 tonnes. Five noodle factories are presently under rehabilitation. The overall WFP beneficiary case load is indicated in table 5.

Table 5: WFP Beneficiaries Case Load as of 1 July 2000

Beneficiaries
Number
Children in nurseries
1 470 000
Children in kindergartens
665 000
Children in primary schools
1 362 000
Children in secondary schools
1 947 000
Children in orphanages
10 000
Paediatric Hospitals
24 000
The Elderly
500,000
Pregnant and nursing women
320 000
Workers and dependents
FFW activities
1 650 000
Total
7 948 000

5.4 Coping Mechanisms, Household Food Access and Availability

The Mission notes that although the overall food situation in DPR Korea at the macro level has shown signs of improvement in the last two years, as production has been relatively stable, at the micro level there are considerable variations in consumption. Overall, since natural disasters between 1995 and 1997, a number of vital coping strategies have evolved to counter food shortages. These include

In view of generalised food shortages food consumption has also changed discernibly as the availability of meat (especially beef and pork, which were intensively reared on grain hitherto) and other protein foods in the diet have declined. In view of these changes, whilst past missions have assumed that cereals contributed 75 percent of a minimum daily calorie requirement of 2130 kcal/person/day, it is now considered that this percentage (including potatoes in cereal equivalent) is likely to be higher. In the absence of household surveys the food intake profile of households remains unclear, though the mission notes that the Government is currently undertaking a nutritional survey, which may provide valuable information for any adjustments to be made in future.

Present day household food access and availability in DPR Korea is characterised by the following:

During field visits, there was no indication of evident malnutrition. This can be attributed to relatively favourable harvests in the past two years and to a large degree also to well targeted feeding programmes for nurseries, kindergartens and primary school through international food aid.

5.5 Monitoring and Access

Food aid is only distributed to accessible counties. Food aid monitoring provides an invaluable method for fine tuning future food aid targeting, particularly in view of variation in the availability of food through out the country. In general the quality of access has improved, with greater flexibility in visiting arrangements and more visits allowed to rural beneficiaries. Currently, WFP has access to 163 counties out of a total of 211, where an estimated 84 percent of the population live.

WFP has established five sub-offices for monitoring in Sinuiju, Wonsan, Hamhung, Chongjin and Hyesan. There are 46 international and 60 national staff for operational and monitoring activities, to which the Government has agreed. Monitors regularly visit beneficiaries and beneficiary institutions in accessible counties, to ensure that the food reaches the beneficiaries, assess the impact of food assistance and the need for further assistance and provide guidance and advice on project implementation.

In recent years, the number of female monitors has been substantially increased and now represent 50 percent of monitoring staff. This representation of women in the field enables WFP to obtain better quality information on the situation and difficulties faced by Korean women, especially as females make up more than 53 percent of beneficiaries.

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
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:
GIEWS1@FAO.ORG

Ms. J. Cheng-Hopkins
Regional Director, OAC, WFP
Telex: 626675 WFP 1
Fax: 0039-06-6513-2863
E-Mail:
Judy.Cheng-Hopkins@WFP.ORG

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1 Potato production in cereal (energy) equivalent.

2 In wheat grain equivalent, converting wheat flour to wheat grain using a conversion factor of 1.33.

3 80 450 tonnes of wheat flour @ 1.33 = 107 000 tonnes.

4 Based on Government estimate of 22.554 million people as of the end of August 1999 and an official growth rate of 1.5 percent/annum. Although the population figure is lower than earlier estimates used in FAO/WFP assessments, the official figure is used as it incorporates an estimate for mortality and assumes a lower fertility rate which is consistent with current food availability and the health of the population.

5 Double crop wheat and barley area for the 2001 crop is estimated to be similar to actual planting this year.

6 Figures round up.