Good days ahead… or is it just an aberration?

According to Kwon Tae-jin at the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI), North Korea’s crop production is expected to rise more than 5% this year, surpassing 5 million tons. He attributed this surge in food yield to the following factions:

  • Fairly favorable weather conditions without major typhoons and droughts
  • relatively good supply of materials for farming such as fertilizer

Yonhap further reported  

A source in China with knowledge of the food situation in its communist neighbor also said earlier that the North’s grain harvest is expected to reach as much as 5.3 million tons this year, a 7.7 percent increase from 4.92 million tons last year.

If true, this year’s harvest, which started in September, should nearly fulfill the 5.4 million ton annual demand, as calculated by the KREI.

However, it is ever worrying that the crop yield is attributed largely to climate and  fertilizer supply – both of which have proven in the past to be incredibly volatile. In essence, North Korea is largely dependent on luck.

A few questions that are left:

  • Are the estimated figures accurate
  • What is the state of petrochemical fertilizer production, especially in Hamheung and Sariwon
  • Has North Korea made any more progress in implementing the 6.28 reforms

And of course, as highlighted here before, increased aggregate food supply without adequate channels of distribution is largely meaningless. We will continue to monitor whether this has a meaningful effect on food prices in the coming months.

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About Yong Kwon

Analyst of international relations, writer of history, observer of North Korea's food and monetary policies, and Korea blogger for the Diplomat
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