North Korea plans to overcome new international sanctions in part by developing its agricultural sector in 2018, according to an article published in state media Wednesday.
Hyun Jung Su, a representative of Anak County’s Cooperative Farm Management Committee, called rice a “gun shell” for beating the United States in his article on state-controlled news website Uriminzokkiri, stating that successful farming would neutralize international sanctions.
The UN Security Council announced new sanctions against North Korea in Resolution 2397 on December 22. The resolution bans North Korea from supplying, selling, or transferring food and agricultural products but is not intended to negatively affect international food aid and humanitarian assistance for North Korea.
The resolution also limits North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum to 500,000 barrels for 12 months starting on January 1, 2018, with crude oil imports capped at current levels for that period.
The newest round of sanctions, issued in response to North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile development programs, arrives on the heels of a drought that has led to shortages of food in the DPRK.
An official estimate released by South Korea’s National Coordination Committee on June 23 calculated that 50,000 hectares of North Korean farmland have been severely affected by long-term drought.
South Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA) estimated that the total grain produced in North Korea this year was 4.71 million tons, about 100,000 tons or approximately two percent less than last year’s 4.81 million tons.
North Korea’s total domestic supply of food is 5.15 million tons, and the total consumption is 5,688,000 tons, resulting in a food shortage of about 458,000 tons, according to the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI).
Kim Jong Un emphasized the importance of agriculture in his New Year’s speech at the beginning of 2017, and the Rodong Sinmun says that he has been directing agricultural development projects throughout the year.
Earlier this month, Kim said in the Rodong Sinmun that the country should “resolve the people’s food problems by farming successfully,” calling for an increase in agricultural production.
“We must widely accept the good seeds and the scientific farming methods that have proved superior in reality and increase the amount of area that can be farmed twice a year,” he said.
Kim has also stressed the need for effective agricultural machinery. The Rodong Sinmun reported in November that army technicians had developed a mobile rice thresher and claimed the country now has hundreds of them.
The 2017 National Agricultural Science and Technology Performance Exhibition was held in Pyongyang on December 11, according to the Rodong Sinmun. In the exhibition, a number of North Korean universities including Kim Il Sung University and Pyongyang Agricultural University reportedly introduced new fertilizers and methods for spreading pesticides.
State media reported that the country has expanded the areas the allow for farming two or three times a year and that farmers have adopted high-yielding seeds of wheat and barley.
Kim Jong Un also directed construction of large reservoirs in North Hamgyong Province, the Rodong Sinmun said. The province has built tens of kilometers long “naturally flowing waterways” in a number of regions to supply water for farming without water pumps.
Actual agricultural production in the DPRK is estimated to have decreased in 2017 from last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture calculations. The department said forecasts for North Korea’s 2017-2018 rice crop forecast have been lowered 50,000 tons to 1.55 million tons from the previous year due to an extremely dry spring in 2017 that stressed crops and reduced the expected yield.
A number of international organizations – including UN agencies, the EU, international cooperation organizations, and NGOs – visited South Hwanghae Province in June and found significant drought damage to crops in all regions. The water levels of wells, waterways, streams, and reservoirs were also reported to have decreased considerably.
South Hwanghae Province is one of the major grain regions of North Korea, according to the KREI. The grain produced in these regions accounts for about two-thirds of the total grain production in North Korea, KREI said, but total precipitation in these regions was about 25 to 50 percent lower from April to June 2017 than average levels from 1982 to 2012.
Correction: The information about North Korea’s total domestic supply and shortage of food came from the Korea Rural Economic Institute.
Edited by Bryan Betts
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Featured Image: Chonsam Cooperative Farm. Anbyon County, North Korea. by (stephan) on 2008-06-12 16:49:52