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Democratic People's Republic of Korea PDF version    Email this article Print this article Subscribe FAO GIEWS RSS  Share this article  

Reference Date: 13-July-2015


  1. Prolonged dry spell affected plantings and yield potential of 2015 food crops

  2. Sharply reduced 2014/15 early season crops for second consecutive year

  3. Government reduced the food rations for first distribution in July

  4. Higher cereal import requirements forecast for 2014/15 marketing year (November/October)

Main season 2015 cereal production forecast to decline sharply from last year

Planting of the 2015 main season rice and maize crops normally starts in April and continues until mid-June. Remote sensing data indicates well below-average rains from mid-April to early-July over the central and southern “food basket” provinces of the country. The poor precipitation, coupled with low levels of irrigation water in wells and reservoirs, has reportedly resulted in a reduction in planted area of the 2015 staple rice crop and adversely affected yield potential of the early-planted crops, including also maize and soybeans. Although rains improved during the second dekad of June over the main growing areas of the country (see rainfall charts on the right), including the provinces of South and North Hwanghae and South and North Pyongan, more precipitation are still needed to allow late planting and support normal development of the crops. A detailed assessment of the crop damage is not yet available, but early official estimates provided by the National Coordinating Committee (NCC), as of 8 June, indicate that only 441 562 hectares of rice crop or 81 percent out of the planned area of 545 498 hectares were transplanted, with 34 339 hectares lost to dry weather. In addition, 136 245 hectares, accounting for some 31 percent of the transplanted area are reported to be adversely affected. Considering the reductions in planted area and expected reduced yields, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2015 rice production at 2.3 million tonnes, 12 percent below the last year’s drought‑affected output.

Reports indicate that the transplanting of maize, which normally starts earlier in the season, is mostly completed. While area planted reductions are not reported, maize yields are expected to be lower than last year’s good levels when, despite dry weather during the cropping season, the Government’s efforts to provide supplementary irrigation, through mass mobilization of people resulted in higher maize yields. However, this year’s reports indicate extreme low levels of irrigation and ground water reserves following two consecutive years of dry weather, which is expected to negatively affect irrigation activities. Assuming a decrease in yields and average plantings, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2015 maize production at 2.2 million tonnes, a drop of 15 percent from last year’s good level.

Sharply reduced 2014/15 early season crops for second consecutive year

The dry spell in the past months has also seriously affected the 2014/15 early season crops (minor winter/spring barley and wheat and main potato crops), currently being harvested. Water deficits, at the final development stage (April‑May), are expected to have negatively affected yields. No precise information on the full extent of the damage is yet available. FAO’s early forecast in February 2015 had already indicated an unfavourable outlook for the 2014/15 early crops production, due to a significant reduction in plantings compared to the previous year, as a result of shortages of seeds following the reduced harvest in 2013/14. As a result, FAO’s forecast has been revised downwards, with potato production set at 220 000 tonnes, or 24 percent down from the 2013/14, while the winter wheat and barley harvest is expected at 57 000 tonnes, a decline of 26 percent.

Higher cereal import requirements forecast for 2014/15 marketing year (November/October)

With total cereal requirements for the 2014/15 marketing year (November/October) set by FAO at 5.49 million tonnes of cereal equivalent, there is an import requirement of 431 000 tonnes. The Government is expected to import 300 000 tonnes of cereals, leaving an uncovered deficit of 131 000 tonnes for the current marketing year. The estimated food gap is larger than the 2013/14 level of 40 000 tonnes, reported by the 2013 joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), partly due to higher post-harvest losses following changes in the estimation methodology.

Government reduced the food rations for the first distribution in July

As a consequence of the sharp reduction in the 2014/15 early season crop, the Government has reduced the food rations for households dependent on the Public Distribution System (PDS) from 410 grams/person/day distributed between January to June 2015 to 310 grams/person/day for the first distribution in July (see Figure 1). The PDS is the main system to apportion food to at least 70 percent of the total population (around 18 million people).

With drought conditions this season, the food security situation is likely to deteriorate from that of the previous years, when most households were already estimated to have borderline and poor food consumption rates. FAO will continue to closely monitor the weather situation and crop progress, particularly in view of the current development of the El Niño phenomenon, which is often associated with dry weather in the region.

Relevant links:
 As of Jul 2015, included in the list of "Countries Requiring External Assistance for Food"
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2002, 2001, 2001, 2000, 2000, 2000, 1999, 1999, 1998, 1998, 1998, 1997, 1997, 1997, 1996, 1996, 1996, 1995
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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