FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to DPR Korea, 28 November 2013

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to DPR Korea, 28 November 2013
Nov 2013

The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the request of the Government, from 27 September to 11 October 2013.

Highlights:

  • In the DPR Korea, despite a small reduction in planted area, overall crop production in 2013/14 is estimated to increase by about 5 percent. 
  • A total of 5.98 million tonnes of food output (including paddy, cereals, soybeans, and cereal equivalent of potatoes) from cooperative farms, plots on sloping land, and household gardens for 2013/14 is expected. This estimate includes the 2013 main season harvest that was concluded and the forecast for 2014 early season crops. When paddy is converted to milled rice and soybeans to cereal equivalent, total food production is estimated at about 5.03 million tonnes.
  • Unusually early and heavy rains in July and early August compromised maize and soybean yields but had little effect on paddy. 
  • Soybean production recorded a second consecutive year of decline, due to a 6 percent reduction in yield. Main-season potatoes performed well this year, which bodes well for the seed supply for the 2014 early crop. However, supply of seeds for minor winter and spring wheat as well as barley is a constraint due to declining production over consecutive recent years.
  • Based on the Mission’s estimate of total utilization needs of 5.37 million tonnes of cereal equivalent (rice in milled terms), the Mission estimates a cereal import requirement of 340,000 tonnes for the 2013/14 marketing year (November/October). Assuming the official import target of 300,000 tonnes of cereals is met, the Mission estimates an uncovered food deficit of 40,000 tonnes for the current marketing year. This food gap is the narrowest in many years, and is mainly due to the higher 2013 production.
  • Despite the improved harvest, the food security situation remains similar to previous years with most households having borderline and poor food consumption. Consumption of protein and oils remains an issue of concern. 
  • The Mission observed immense logistical challenges for the public distribution system (PDS) and therefore expresses concerns about the timeliness and consistency of food distribution. 
  • Markets and informal mechanisms of bartering and other forms of exchange are believed to be of increasing importance for household access to food, particularly in urban areas. 
  • The nutrition situation has improved in recent years; however, rates of stunting remain high and micronutrient deficiencies are of particular concern. 
  • In order to improve food security and nutrition, the Mission also makes recommendations for national and international support for:

    (i) Agriculture-related: sustainable farming practices, better price and market incentives for farmers, and improvement in farm mechanization.

    (ii) Food security-related: stimulate spring crop production and implement disaster preparedness and response programmes.

    (iii) Nutrition-related: improve dietary diversity and feeding practices for young children and women through different strategies such as behavioural change, market reform, and encouraging livestock and fish production; strengthening treatment of severe and moderate acute malnutrition and improving hygiene and sanitation practices.