FAO in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

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Over the past three decades, FAO has cooperated with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, providing agricultural technical assistance ranging from agroforestry, fruit and crop production and marine aquaculture to transboundary pest and disease control. Emergency support has been a major feature of cooperation in the past, while more comprehensive programme approaches to development have been adopted since the second half of the 1990s, including an increasing focus on issues such as food safety.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) secured FAO membership on 14 November, 1977 and subsequently FAO and the Government of the DPR Korea signed the Host Country Agreement on 1st January, 1998 and 9th February, 1998 respectively for the establishment of the FAO Representation in the DPRK under the Agreement for Double Accreditation from China.

Since then, FAO has provided technical support to the DPRK for over three decades aimed at enhancing national food and nutrition security. During this period, some 214 field projects assisted by FAO have received funding totalling 80,428 million USD.

The DPR Korea has a population of 24 million approx. Rural communities make up one third of the population mostly living in the 3000 cooperative farms which utilise 90% of the agriculture land. FAO work covers 8 out of 11 provinces, spread across 66 counties.

The agriculture sector, including forestry and fisheries, is the mainstay of the national economy of the DPR Korea contributing 20 percent to the country's GDP and employing 36% of its workforce. Despite the adverse topography, inclement weather, climatic aberrations and limited agricultural land (only 15% of the country's total land area is suitable for agricultural production while 85% is mountainous territory) the DPR Korea's food production continues to grow. Self-sufficiency in food production is a national priority.

FAO has supported the DPRK to achieve food security through agroforestry, soybean cultivation, fruit production, marine aquaculture and capacity building. FAO has also supported the rehabilitation of facilities related to double cropping, conservation agriculture, horticulture and prevention of trans-boundary animal disease such as influenza and foot and mouth disease.

Policy makers, government staff and researchers in the DPR Korea have benefited from various international study tours and regional FAO programmes that have enabled the exchange of experiences and expertise.

During the early years of 1985 to 2000, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded 17 long-term technical cooperation projects with a total value of close to 12 million USD, while more than 50 FAO funded projects under the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) were implemented in agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries.

More than 20 large-scale FAO programmes for double cropping were implemented during the 2000s with a value of well over 17 million USD, with Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Italy as the main donors. During the decade, the double-cropping programme evolved into the National Special Programme for Food Security and the Italian Government provided funding to support it.

Since 2008, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) started to allocate funds to FAO emergency projects. The same year FAO's Emergency Operation and Rehabilitation Division commenced.

In 2011, the FAO-DPR Korea field programme portfolio for the first time reached 8 million USD, with the approval of three UNDP funded projects, three TCP and two emergency projects funded by CERF.

FAO cumulative delivery in 2011 stood at 64.4 million USD. The country office made a total delivery of 3,258 million USD in 2011; 5,819 million USD in 2012; 4,106 million USD in 2013 and 2.845 million USD in 2014. This significantly contributed to the increase in agricultural production leading to the gradual reduction of the chronic food gap in the country.