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Country Briefs

  Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Reference Date: 05-July-2021


  1. Favourable start of 2021 main season and crops in good conditions

  2. Near‑average aggregate food crop production estimated in 2020

  3. Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 marketing year estimated close to five‑year average

Favourable start of 2021 main season and crops in good conditions

Sowing of the 2021 main season food crops, which account for about 90 percent of the annual output, was completed in June and harvesting is expected to start at the end of August. Weather conditions have been overall favourable since April, facilitating planting activities and resulting in above‑average vegetation conditions as of mid‑June (ASI map).

Near‑average aggregate food crop production estimated in 2020

Harvesting of the 2020 main season crops was completed in September/October 2020 and, based on official data, the output is estimated close to the five‑year average at 5.1 million tonnes (cereal equivalent and paddy terms). A 5 percent increase compared with average levels in the area harvested partially offset yield losses caused by excessive soil moisture and waterlogging, following the passage of several typhoons and heavy rainfall from early August to mid‑September 2020. The key producing provinces of South and North Hwanghae, South Pyongan as well as South and North Hamgyong, collectively known as the country’s “Cereal Bowl”, registered yields well below the five‑year average. Rice production is estimated at 2.1 million tonnes (in paddy terms), 10 percent below the five‑year average. The output of the main season maize crop is estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, close to the five‑year average, while the production of soybeans slightly above‑average at 230 000 tonnes. The 2020/21 minor early season winter/spring crops, including wheat, barley and potatoes, have been recently harvested and the output is officially estimated at an above‑average level of 466 000 tonnes.

Overall, the 2020/21 aggregate food crop production is forecast at a near‑average level of 5.6 million tonnes.

Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 estimated close to five‑year average

The total domestic utilization of cereals, soybeans and potatoes structurally exceeds the domestic availability and the total import requirements (in cereal equivalent) are estimated at a near‑average level of 1.1 million tonnes for the 2020/21 marketing year (November/October). With commercial imports officially planned at 205 000 tonnes, the uncovered food gap is estimated at about 860 000 tonnes, equivalent to approximately 2.3 months of food use. If this gap is not adequately covered through commercial imports and/or food aid, households could experience a harsh lean period from August to October, when the 2021 main season crops will be available for consumption.

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