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Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Economy, agriculture and food security

In 2008, gross domestic product (GDP) was US$40 000 million of which agriculture accounted for 23.3 percent (CIA, 2009).

The total population economically active in agriculture in 2009 was around 3.1 million inhabitants, amounting to 24 percent of the economically active population, of which 46 percent were women.

In the 1980s it was estimated that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had about 38 000 cooperative farms (kolkhoz) and 180 state farms (sovkhoz), the former cultivating more than 90 percent of the total cultivated land. However, since the mid-1990s, the Government has tended to advocate the gradual transfer of the cooperative farms to state farms.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to suffer widespread food shortages as a result of economic problems, limited arable land, lack of agricultural machinery and energy shortages. The country remains highly vulnerable to natural disasters. The most recently severe flooding in August 2007 caused widespread damage to crops and infrastructure in six southern provinces. The country has also suffered from the effects of the global commodity crisis, with rampant increases in market prices for staple foods and fuel. WFP/FAO assessments confirmed a significant deterioration in food security in 2008 (WFP, 2009).


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