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FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Dec 2008

FAO and WFP conducted a Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) from 9 through 24 October 2008.

Highlights:

  • This FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was the first one to be conducted since 2004; however, it benefited from recent exercises, including the August 2007 Flood Rapid Assessment, and the 2008 joint FAO/WFP Rapid Food Security Assessment.
  • The findings forecast a total domestic food production for the 2008/09 marketing year of 3.342 million tonnes milled (4.21 million tonnes unmilled), including potatoes in cereal equivalent and production from kitchen gardens and sloping lands.
  • This represents a decline in food production for the third consecutive year.
  • The total cereal import requirement in 2008/09 is estimated at 1.786 million tonnes, based on a cereal utilization of 167 kg/capita/year and taking into account non-human utilization (seeds, feed, losses etc). Even assuming commercial imports are maintained at the substantial levels of previous years (500 000 tonnes) and that all current food aid pledges (450 000 tonnes, including unconfirmed contributions) are delivered, the country would face a remaining deficit of 836 000 tonnes.
  • Analysis of household food access has revealed that most households will face major challenges in meeting their food consumption requirements during 2008/09. This is due to overall low per capita cereal availability in most provinces; low and sharp seasonal reductions in Public Distribution System rations (150 grams per person per day as reported from June to September 2008); reduced number of meals and poor dietary diversity at the household level; and limited alternative options for accessing food.
  • It is estimated that some 8.741 million persons (37 percent of the total population) consisting of the elderly; pregnant and lactating women; children in nursery, kindergarten and primary schools; children in residential institutions and in paediatric wards; and other transitory categories will require food assistance to meet their basic food needs.
  • Based on the nutritional requirement for each beneficiary category and corresponding period of food assistance, the total quantity of food required until the next harvest in October 2009 is estimated at 800 000 tonnes (consisting of cereals, pulses, oils, and fortified biscuits and blended foods).
  • Weather-wise, 2008 was overall a very favourable year, but the agricultural sector could not fully take advantage of good conditions. Main reasons for the below-average production include:
    - A long-term decline in soil fertility, mostly due to built-up acidity in soils reducing the plant absorption of nutrients from fertilizer;
    - Perennial shortages of critical agricultural inputs, especially fuel and fertilizer;
    - Vulnerability to extreme weather events, i.e. alarming trends in the concentration of summer rains, build-up in riverbeds, making them prone to flooding, and damaged or obsolete infrastructure;
    - Structural factors, including constraints on market activities, use of natural resources, and unresolved distribution of potential benefits from higher productivity in both lowland and slope agriculture.
  • Seeds were widely available in 2008, but fertilizer supplies were only 60 percent of deliveries in 2007 and fuel supplies amounted to about 70 percent of previous year’s levels. Yields for the main season fell accordingly; prospects for the next winter/spring season are also very modest.