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Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Farmers in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) face numerous challenges, not least of which are soil erosion, scarce inputs and extreme weather like drought, flooding and cold spells. Average crop yields are substantially lower than regional averages, while chronic malnutrition is high. Encouraging farmers to adopt more environmentally sound cropping practices, improving access to quality seeds and planting materials and reducing losses after the harvest are just some of the activities FAO is supporting to improve food and nutrition security in the country.
Towards more sustainable agriculture
Farmers in DPRK rely on intensive ploughing and tilling to grow crops – practices that have led to massive soil degradation and declining yields. FAO is assisting them to adopt conservation agriculture techniques to improve local food security while preserving the environment. Conservation agriculture involves: continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance; permanent organic soil cover; and diversified crop rotation. The correct application of all three helps keep soils fertile and healthy for good crop growth. In parts of the country, farmers can grow two consecutive crops on the same land, but it is tough on soils, causing nutrient loss. Conservation agriculture, however, can solve some of the shortcomings of this double cropping system, reducing costs, labour and turn-around time between crops.
Improving input access
The lack of quality agricultural inputs is a big constraint for farmers in DPRK. While the use of high-yielding and disease-free planting materials can boost yields significantly – by 30 to 50 percent – the ability to produce such materials locally is limited. FAO is supporting efforts to enhance local seed multiplication at cooperative farm level, providing net houses for growing seeds, storage facilities and technical support. The aim is to help farmers improve the productivity of their land, rather than expanding the area under cultivation, as a more sustainable way of increasing production and meeting growing demand.
Better storage, greater food security
Lacking suitable winter storage, farmers in the DPRK usually keep seed potato in their homes or in covered pits or bunkers. About 25 percent of seed potato is lost each year. During the prolonged cold spell in 2010/2011, those figures rose to 70 percent in some cases. Likewise, outdated maize and rice threshers and mills result in big losses during processing. FAO is working to ensure farming families have better access to post-harvest practices and facilities – from proper storage on cooperative farms to simple oil presses for processing new crops. FAO is also training farmers on improved techniques, raising their awareness of how and where post-harvest losses occur as well as different management options available for reducing such losses.