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Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


At the national level, the agriculture sector is directed by the Agriculture Commission, which is in charge of the planning, management and technical direction of production. Within the Agricultural Commission, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage has the task of providing technical assistance to farmers and of developing irrigation techniques.

At provincial level, the Agricultural Commission is represented by the Provincial Rural Economy Committee (PREC), which is directly responsible for the production and management of the state farms and supervises agricultural production through District/County Cooperative Farm Management Committees (CCFMCs). The country has over 200 districts and counties where the CCFMCs are entrusted with the planning, production and management of cooperative farms. The CCFMCs also directly supervise state enterprises concerned with agricultural production (i.e. farm machinery and implement factories, tractor stations and irrigation offices).

Water management

Since 60 percent of the total annual precipitation is in summer, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has emphasized irrigation from its first development plan in 1957-1960, even extending into mountainous areas. Substantial investments were made to construct dams and reservoirs, canals and pumping stations (Woon-Keun Kim, 1999).

Challenges faced are the shortage of arable land and the increasing costs of land reclamations as well as the massive rise and fall of river/lake levels caused by heavy rainfall and drought at critical points in the crop cycle. Strategic options aiming to achieve sustainable food security by improving agricultural production systems could be based on: (i) reconstructing flood-stricken areas, (ii) developing hilly mountainous land and reclaiming tidal land, (ii) modernizing irrigation systems through increased investment, and (iv) improving anti-flood forestation.

Policies and legislation

Agricultural policies of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are directed towards solving the problem of food shortages through the ‘four improvements’ in agricultural technology: irrigation, farm mechanization, rural electrification, and agricultural chemicals. The government has also carried out a number of reclamation projects to increase the area of arable land. Priority has been given to improving the agricultural infrastructure, especially expanding irrigation facilities, and terracing and draining new arable land (Woon-Keun Kim, 1999).

The Government has adopted two strategies to meet its future cereal requirements:

  • increase production by using high-yielding varieties (HYVs), and through more efficient, and environmentally sound soil and crop management practices; and
  • increase the area of cultivated land by reclaiming tidal lands.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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