[Reformatted as text file version by WFP - without graphs, and with some

   tables replaced with information in list form]

   25 November 1997

   Mission Highlights

   -  Korea DPR faces grim food outlook for 1998 as food production falls

   for third year running

   -  Worst drought in decades reduces 1997 maize output to lowest on


   -  Food production will only cover minimum needs for  seven months.

   -  Substantial food imports, including food aid, equivalent to 1.95

   million tons needed in 1997/98.

   -  1.25 million tons needed as emergency and programme food aid.

   -  Public Distribution System highly weakened as supplies fall further,

   raising concerns for vulnerable groups without other means to access


   -  Continued food assistance to children vital to ensure minimum

   nutritional needs.

   -  International assistance also vital to help the country find longer

   term solutions to food security, through provision of essential inputs

   and sustainable agricultural practices.

   1.      OVERVIEW.

   Since 1995 Korea DPR has suffered a number of natural disasters which

   have seriously impeded the capacity of the country to feed its people.

   In the aftermath of floods in 1996, the country received an

   unprecedented amount of food assistance through the international

   community without which undoubtedly the emergence of nutritional and

   health problems would have been far more widespread within the

   population. Notwithstanding the importance of such food assistance as a

   short term measure it is vital that the country address means by which

   future, and sustainable, food security can be more assured. In this

   regard the performance of the economy and its ability to generate

   productive employment and vital foreign exchange for purchase of

   essential inputs and raw materials, for agriculture and food imports in

   shortfall years,  will be essential to any lasting strategy.

   Following an interim assessment of this year's drought in August, an

   FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Korea DPR from

   21 October to 4 November to assess this year's final harvest and

   evaluate food supply prospects for the 1997/98 marketing year. In making

   its assessment the mission held discussions with key Government

   departments, UN agencies and NGOs and made field assessment visits to

   main agricultural areas, including North and South Hwangae Province,

   South Pyongan province and Kangwon Province. In addition, to assess food

   distribution and supply the mission made a number of visits, some

   random, to individual households in urban and rural areas, grain stores

   and public distribution outlets and schools and nurseries.

   The mission found that the negative effect of this year's prolonged

   drought resulted largely in a significant decrease in maize production,

   one of two main cereals in the country. Although output of rainfed

   maize, which constitutes most of the area under production, was severely

   reduced,  reasonable production was still possible in areas with

   variable degrees of irrigation. The overall output of maize is estimated

   at around 1.14 million tons, over 50 percent lower than may have been

   expected under favourable weather conditions this year. The significant

   drop in maize production is consistent with sizeable reductions in

   output in main producing areas in north eastern China, which were

   similarly affected by the drought this year. The adverse affect of the

   drought on rice, however, was much less pronounced as the crop is

   largely irrigated. Although the level of irrigation from some

   reservoirs, mainly those that are rainfed, was markedly reduced the

   overall affect this had on the crop was not as severe as had been

   anticipated by the earlier mission in August. Moreover, paddy yields in

   areas with assured irrigation were assessed to be higher than expected

   under present input constraints. This phenomenon is attributed to

   various factors including improved fertilizer efficiency and greater use

   of labour. Rice in coastal areas was also affected to some extent by the

   incursion of tidal waves following typhoon Winnie in late August.

   However in making the final assessment of the harvest this year losses

   due to the typhoon were not considered to be as high as had been earlier

   anticipated. Milled rice production in 1997, taking into account losses,

   is estimated at approximately 1.52 million tons which together with

   maize brings aggregate production of these cereals to 2.66 million tons

   in milled rice equivalent or 3.48 million tons in paddy equivalent. The

   domestic supply of grains this year, therefore, will again be far short

   of needs for the third year in succession and once more the country will

   be looking at substantial food assistance to meet demand.

   Grain supply constraints in recent years have necessitated major

   revisions in utilisation as part of a coping strategy. Most significant

   of this has been the reduction in grain use for animal feed as well as

   the number of animals. Obviously such reduction will have long term

   consequences as the availability of animal protein in the diet will fall

   far below levels considered desirable. Taking into account reduced

   utilisation, though maintaining a minimum stipulation for food use, the

   import requirement of cereals for 1997/98 will be around 1.95 million

   tons. Of this it is estimated that commercial imports, including

   informal cross border trade with China will account for 700 000 tons,

   whilst pledged food assistance in the pipeline will bring in a further

   241 000 tons. The uncovered import deficit with which the country needs

   food assistance, including programme food aid, amounts to about a

   million tons.

   In assessing the overall issues of food supply and food assistance to

   the country, the mission has the following observations. The fact that

   the incidence of chronic malnutrition has not become more widespread is

   largely the unprecedented levels of food assistance the country has

   received in the past two years. Without such assistance there is little

   doubt that problems would have been more entrenched, especially amongst

   vulnerable groups like children. The mission notes, however, that no

   acceptable quantitative evidence regarding the present extent of

   malnutrition in the country was available to it and concludes that a

   comprehensive assessment must be undertaken. [Footnote:1 - A study was

   carried out by WFP and other UN agencies, involving 3 965 children under

   7 in 40 nurseries and kindergartens in 19 counties in 4 provinces. The

   methodology applied, was not based on random sampling and as such cannot

   be seen as being representative of the country as a whole. However, it

   lays the basis for a more extensive and representative study in future.]

   This is especially important as there is concern that nutritional

   problems, and related symptoms such as stunting, may be a result of

   endemic problems of food supply and health over several (pre emergency)

   years in addition to the extreme food shortages of the past few years.

   There is also mounting evidence that much greater polarity in food

   consumption exists in the population, than perceived hitherto. Reasons

   why this is occurring include transport difficulties, geographical

   differences, where some provinces are better equipped to deal with

   shortages than others, greater access amongst rural communities than

   urban and differential access to assets and foreign remittances and the

   corresponding ability to purchase food from emerging, though relatively

   insignificant, 'private' markets. There is, therefore, need for enhanced

   targeting of food aid.


   Korea  DPR is severely constrained by the amount of land it has

   available for food production. It is estimated that only around one

   fifth, or approximately 2 million hectares, of the total land area can

   be cultivated, of which around 1.4 million hectares is considered

   suitable for cereal and food grain production.

   The limited potential for expanding domestic food production through

   area expansion in addition to climatic limitation which effectively

   confine cropping to one season a year, have in the past meant that there

   has been heavy stress on intensification of agriculture to increase

   yields per hectare.  This emphasis relied heavily on irrigation,

   mechanisation, chemical inputs to enhance yields and electricity.

   However although, an estimated 80 percent of cereal area is potentially

   irrigable, following destructive floods in 1995 and  1996 a large number

   of  irrigation structures remain damaged constraining potential.

   Moreover, as a result of present economic difficulties there has been a

   significant decline in the provision of the other services to

   agriculture. The use of chemical fertilizers has fallen appreciably in

   the 1990's as imports of either petroleum for manufacture or direct

   fertilizer imports have declined; farm machinery remains idle due to

   obsolescence,  lack of fuel and spare parts, whilst the provision of

   electricity for various farm operations has deteriorated due to

   significant fall in generating capacity. A combination of these factors

   has significantly reduced productivity and agriculture has become

   increasingly dependent on labour, animal draft power and organic


   Specifically with regard to fertilizers, due to economic difficulties,

   the manufacture, import and use of chemicals has declined markedly in

   recent years. The country presently has three manufacturing plants at

   Namhung in the south west and Hungnam and Aoji in the east/north east.

   However there are two fundamental problems in manufacture namely

   industrial obsolescence and poor maintenance, which mean that

   substantial investment in plant refurbishment is vital to bring

   factories to efficient capacity and the second the extreme shortage of

   raw materials, principally petroleum. It is estimated that if the plants

   were running to capacity some 410 000 tons of Nitrogen equivalent could

   be produced per year. This year however, the Government estimates that

   around 300 000 tons of Urea were supplied to agriculture through

   manufacture and imports. The mission estimates that less than half of

   this was domestically produced. Of total nutrient supply a sizeable part

   is reserved for vegetable and fruit production. Taking this into

   account, It is estimated that between 50 and 60 kg/ha of nitrogen

   equivalent were applied to rice and maize in 1997. The optimum rate

   would be nearer 120 to 125 kg/ha of N. The shortfall in nitrogen

   application presently, therefore, is roughly 50 to 60 percent. The

   corresponding decline in fertiliser use and production of maize and

   paddy are illustrated in figures 1 and 2. [not in this text/e-mail


   From an environmental standpoint a disturbing phenomena, which appears

   to have gained further momentum in recent  years of food shortages has

   been increased cultivation of highly marginal hill slopes,. This has

   resulted in serious deforestation and exacerbated problems of soil

   erosion and siltation. In turn, increased silt deposits in river systems

   have increased the probability of flooding even in fairly moderate

   rainfall years.

   Although limited quantities of wheat, barley and millets are grown,

   cereal production is dominated by two main cereals, rice and maize. Rice

   is cultivated mainly in south-western parts of the country where most of

   the country's irrigation capacity is centred and where the climate is

   slightly more conducive to production. Maize is the dominant crop in

   higher altitude parts of the north. Limited land and the emphasis given

   to rice and maize as the dominant cereals, however, have led to

   continuos cropping and the lack of rotation and fallowing systems which

   in turn have exacerbated problems of declining soil fertility.

   Field observations indicate that plant densities per hectare are

   comparatively high at between 420 000- 480 000 plants per hectare in

   rice and 70 000 - 80 000 plants/ha in maize. The seed rate is also

   relatively high ranging from between 120 and 150 kg/ha for transplanted

   rice and 40 to 50 kg/ha for maize. Given the quality of seed and

   allowing for losses and spoilage, these rates are fairly representative

   of most other countries in south east Asia, with the exception of Japan

   where rates are considerably lower. The dominant seed types available

   with percentage coverage and characteristics, under favourable

   conditions,  are shown in table 1. The use of the different seed types

   is determined by altitude and duration in relation to the number of

   frost free days in different localities.

   Table 1: Predominant seed types and main characteristics

   [Reformatted and taken out of table for text file by WFP. Notes are in



   Seed Type: Pyongyang

   Duration - days: 180

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2):  10

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  7

   % of total crop area sown:  70-80

   [% of total crop area sown for following: Hamzu, Yomzu, Pyonbuk, Other,

   together: 20-30]

   Seed Type: Hamzu

   Duration - days: 150-160

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2):  5-6

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  4-5

   Seed Type: Yomzu

   Duration - days: 135

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2): 4-5

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3): 3-4

   Seed Type:  Pyonbuk

   Duration - days: 160-170

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2):  6-7

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  4-5

   Seed Type: Other

   Duration - days:  -

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2): -

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  -


   Seed Type:  Hwanson (5)

   Duration - days: 110-135

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2):  7-8

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  6.5

   % of total crop area sown: 55

   Seed Type:  Unsan

   Duration - days: 110-135

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2):  8

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  6-6.5

   % of total crop area sown: 20

   Seed Type:  Pyongan

   Duration - days: 150

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2): 10

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3): 5-6

   % of total crop area sown: 15

   Seed Type: other

   Duration - days: 150

   Optimum Yield Tons/Ha(2): -

   Average yields Tons/Ha(3):  -

   % of total crop area sown:  10


   1. Source Agricultural Commission, DPRK.

   2. Optimum yields possible under ideal climate and input conditions

   3. Average yields possible under ideal climate and input conditions

   4. The main Pyongyang varieties are P15, P18 and P21

   5. The main Hwansong varieties are H1 and H2

   In view of the scarcity of productive land,  an intensive system of

   manual crop husbandry is practised, the importance of which has

   increased in recent years due to either the lack of operational machines

   and/or fuel. Indeed to assist with key crop operations a sizeable

   component of labour is normally required to be provided by non

   agricultural workers from urban areas.


   3.1     The 1997 drought and typhoon

   The production of cereals in 1997 was seriously affected by a severe

   drought at critical stages in  crop development and,  to a lesser

   extent, by typhoon and tidal waves later in the season. Although at the

   time of planting in May rainfall was appreciably above normal, in

   subsequent months the amount of precipitation fell sharply and the

   country experienced its worst drought for decades. As a result rainfall

   in June, July and August averaged between 20 and 30 percent of the long

   term average. Figures 3 and 4 illustrate rainfall patterns in 1997

   compared to cumulative and long-term monthly averages for a

   cross-section of weather stations across the country.

   The impact of the drought particularly affected rainfed maize, though

   another important consequence was a reduction in the amount of water

   available in some irrigation reservoirs fed principally by rainfall. The

   reduced availability of water from these reservoirs will also affect

   crop prospects in 1998 as the volume available for land preparation and

   key planting operations next April/May will be seriously reduced.

   Although some replenishment of reservoirs will come from limited

   rainfall and snow melt before the onset of the next crop season the

   amount anticipated will be well below requirements, as the country

   receives a small proportion of its annual rainfall during these months

   (figures 3 & 4 [not included in e-mail version]). Currently, based on

   observations it is estimated that some reservoirs are between 20 and 30

   percent of capacity. In addition to the drought, crops in coastal areas

   were also seriously damaged by tidal waves brought by Typhoon Winnie in

   late August, which destroyed protective sea barriers along the western

   coast. In these areas, the rice crop has been totally destroyed or has

   yielded grains which cannot be consumed due to high sodium content. .

   3.2     Area cultivated

   In view of geographical limitations, it is estimated that the cultivated

   area of rice and maize on state and cooperative farms has remained more

   or less constant over the last decade. However, there is now greater

   proliferation of cultivation of maize into marginal hill areas, though

   it is characterised by low productivity and probably contributes

   relatively little to aggregate domestic production. In addition such

   cultivation must be regarded as an ill considered short term measure to

   meet immediate food needs which is neither sustainable nor desirable in

   the long term. Nonetheless some allowance of these areas in domestic

   production of maize this year has been made.

   The official estimates of the areas of rice and maize cultivated this

   year by /province is indicated in table 2.

   Table 2 DPRK: Area cultivated of rice and maize by municipality/province

   in 1997.

   [Reformatted for text file version by WFP: format of table may be

   corrupted - adjust tab stops if necessary]

   Locality               Rice                 Maize              Total

                       Area  % of total    Area  % of total   Area  % of total

   Pyongyang          26 302     4.4      16 289     2.3     42 591     3.3

   South Pyongan      98 495    16.4      72 208    10.3    170 703    13.1

   North Pyongan     104 951    17.5     105 213    15.0    210 164    16.2

   Chagang             6 859     1.1      39 915     5.7     46 774     3.6

   South Hwangae     150 117    25.0     105 378    15.1    255 495    19.6

   North Hwangae      49 852     8.3      85 270    12.2    135 122    10.4

   Kangwon            36 208     6.0      41 828     6.0     78 036     6.0

   South Hamyong      59 868    10.0      53 212     7.6    113 080     8.7

   North Hamyong      22 954     3.8      59 296     8.5     82 250     6.3

   Ryangang            1 975     0.3       9 599     1.4     11 574     0.9

   Kaesong            12 412     2.1       2 633     0.4     15 045     1.2

   Nampo              15 529     2.6       8 640     1.2     24 169     1.9

   other(a)           15 000     2.5      50 000    14.3    115 000     8.8

   Total             601 000(b)          650 000(b)       1 251 000(b)

   (a)  mission estimate including reclaimed tidal areas and hill slopes

   for maize.

   (b) rounded up to nearest thousand. In terms of agricultural potential,

   approximately 30 percent of the main cereal area is located in north and

   south Hwangae province, whilst north Pyongan accounts for a further 16


   Compared to area cultivated on cooperative and state farms in 1996,

   there was an estimated increase of around 4 percent in paddy and 3

   percent in maize this year. This is attributed to rehabilitation of

   former flood affected areas and greater cultivation in marginal lands.

   In addition to rice and maize a further 50 000 hectares are estimated to

   be under wheat, buck-wheat and barley and 40 000 hectares under


   3.3     Yields

   Even under present input constraints in Korea  DPR, yields per hectare

   remain relatively high, especially on good to moderate lands which

   constitute approximately two thirds of cereal area. This may be

   attributed to a combination of various factors;

   (a)     although per hectare use of fertilizers has fallen in the

   1990's, the impact on yields has been less marked than may be expected

   as a result of greater efficiency in fertiliser use and the residual

   effect of nutrients in the soil due to high applications in the past. In

   these circumstances, although nitrogen application is essential to

   enhance or sustain yields, the need for phosphates and potassium is less

   crucial. Indeed in the case of P the introduction of phosphate releasing

   bacteria as microbial fertilizers help enhance the content of phosphates

   in the soil.

   (b)     the use of organic and microbial fertilizers has increased.

   (c)     given exiting soils, the control level of yields, ie those that

   would be produced even without the application of chemical fertilizers

   is relatively high and estimated at around 3 tons per hectare on good


   (d)     crop husbandry and the use of labour is highly intensive which

   contributes to high plant densities per hectare and through field

   operations. Moreover, in recent years it is probable that labour use in

   agriculture has increased as a result of significant under-employment in

   the manufacturing sector and the need of the urban population to have

   more direct and physical access to food supplies.

   3.4     Maize production

   Maize in the food economy of Korea  DPR, has assumed increased

   importance in recent years. It is estimated that approximately 650 000

   hectares were cultivated this year, principally in south Pyongan, north

   and south Hwangae and north Hamyong provinces. Planting normally takes

   place from mid April to early May, whilst flowering and pollination

   occurs around the middle of July. During pollination, the water and soil

   moisture regime is of vital importance and significant shortages, as in

   1997, can seriously affect grain formation and production. Harvesting

   begins at the end of August and extends to mid September. The main maize

   varieties are Hwansong 1 and 2 and Unsan 5, which together cover an

   estimated 75 percent of crop area.  Under present input constraints in

   agriculture yields of maize could range from 5 tons/ha on good soils to

   between 2 and 3 tons/ha on moderate to poor soils. Had weather been

   favourable this year,  an average of around 3.5 tons/ha would have been

   reasonably expected. Maize is largely rainfed and as a consequence

   suffered most from this year's drought. However, production was not

   assumed to have been affected by the typhoon and tidal waves.

   In estimating maize production this year, the mission based its

   assessment on the following crop scenarios and assumptions.

   -  195 000 hectares which had continuous irrigation, where crops were

   observed to be in good condition with an average yield of 3.5 tons per

   hectare. Production from this area, therefore, would amount to 682 500


   -  Approximately 130 000 hectares which had limited supplementary

   irrigation with an estimated yield of 1.75 tons per hectare, which would

   produce 227 500 tons.

   -  325 000 hectares of rainfed maize with an average yield of 0.7 tons

   per hectare, giving production of 227 500 tons.

   Based on this analysis maize production in 1997 is estimated at 1.138

   million tons, some 51 percent lower than last year and the lowest on


   3.5     Rice production

   Rice is the country's main staple, cultivated on an estimated 600 000

   hectares, with a crop cycle of  150 to 180 days depending on variety and

   location. The crop is normally transplanted from mid May to early June

   and reaches flowering from the beginning to the middle of August. Rice

   needs ample water to the middle of September or approximately a week to

   ten days before full maturity. It is estimated that more than 80 percent

   of the area under rice is planted to one of three main varieties namely;

   Pyongyang 15, 18 or 21. For prevailing soil conditions in the country,

   rice optimally requires 150 kg/ha of Nitrogen (N), 75 kg/ha of Potassium

   (K) and 60 kg/ha of Potash (P) respectively, to be applied as basal

   applications, at tillering, just before flowering and at grain

   development. In 1997, allowing for constraints in input supply, under

   optimal weather and water conditions over 4 tons/ha of paddy could have

   been produced on average within a range of 6 tons/ha on good lands to 2

   -2.5 tons/ha on poor lands.

   In estimating paddy production, field observations suggest that the

   damage due to the drought this year and lack of irrigation from some

   reservoirs was not as severe as the earlier mission in August had

   envisaged. In addition paddy loss in areas affected by the typhoon and

   tidal waves was not as large as earlier projected. The estimate of paddy

   production was based on the following scenarios and assumptions.

   An estimated 461 000 hectares of paddy received continuous irrigation,

   which were not affected by the drought. Crop samples from these areas,

   at harvest,  indicated yields of between 4.2 to 4.4 tons per hectare.

   Assuming an average yield of 4.3 tons/ha some 1.98 million tons of paddy

   was produced in these areas.

   An estimated 90 000 hectares of paddy which received partial irrigation,

   which helped maintain a reduced water regime in fields. In these areas,

   field observations indicate an average yield of 3.5 tons per hectare,

   giving overall production of a further 315 000 tons.

   Some 35 000 hectares of paddy where soils had dried, though not

   completely, due to deficient irrigation, with reduced yields of around 2

   tons per hectare. Production from these areas amounts to a further 70

   000 tons.

   An estimated 15 000 hectares which were severely affected by the lack of

   irrigation. Samples, taken at harvest in these areas indicate severely

   reduced yields of between 0.1 and 0.5 tons per hectare. Assuming an

   average yield of 0.3 tons per hectare from these areas production is

   estimated at 4 500 tons.

   Before taking into account losses due to the incursion of tidal sea

   water into coastal paddy areas gross aggregate 1997 production of paddy,

   based on the above estimates and scenarios, would have amounted to 2.37

   million tons. However, it is estimated that tidal waves damaged an

   estimated 10 000 hectares. Field observations in damaged tidal areas

   indicated that although some grain formation did take place, the sodium

   content in the grain made it unsuitable for human and feed consumption.

   On average, yields in coastal areas would have amounted to around 2.5

   tons per hectare, which suggests a loss of  25 000 tons in total. Total

   paddy production for 1997 is therefore estimated at around 2.35 million

   tons, or 1.52 million tons of milled rice.

   The estimate of cereal production under the scenarios outlined above is

   summarised in table 4.

   Table 4. Paddy and Maize Production in 1997

   [Reformatted and taken out of table for text file version by WFP. Notes

   are in brackets.]

   Crop/Scenario with Area (Hectares), Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha)and

   Production (Tons)


   i) Irrigated no damageArea (Hectares):  195 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  3 500

   Production (Tons):  682 500

   ii) Partially irrigated - some damageArea (Hectares):  130 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  1 750

   Production (Tons):  227 500

   iii) Rainfed - severely damagedArea (Hectares):  325 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  700

   Production (Tons):  227 500

   Total Maize

   Production (Tons):  1 137 500


   i) Irrigated no damageArea (Hectares):  461 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  4 300

   Production (Tons):  1 982 300

   ii) Reduced irrigation - limited yield loss

   Area (Hectares):  90 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  3 500

   Production (Tons):  315 000

   iii) Reduced irrigation - large yield loss

   Area (Hectares):  35 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  2 000

   Production (Tons):  70 000

   iv) Reduced irrigation- severe yield loss

   Area (Hectares):  15 000

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  300

   Production (Tons):  4 500

   v) Typhoon/tidal wave damage

   Area (Hectares):  (10 000)

   Estimated Yield (Kgs/ha):  2 500

   Production (Tons):  (25 000)

   Total paddy production (Tons):  2 346 800

   Total rice production (a)/ (Tons):  1 525 420

   Total maize and rice (Tons):  2 662 920

   a)/     Assuming a milling rate of paddy to rice of 65 percent. Although

   in the past a higher milling rate was used, the deterioration in machine

   milling, the lack of maintenance of machines and the greater use of

   manual milling systems suggests a lower rate.

   3.6     Other food crops

   As the production and availability of main cereals in recent years has

   declined the importance of other crops in the food economy, mainly

   potatoes has increased. It is estimated that approximately 40 000

   hectares of potatoes are cultivated at an average yield of 8 tons per

   hectare. Some 320 000 tons of potatoes, or 80 000 tons of grain

   equivalent were produced in 1997. No official data were available on the

   quantities of wheat and barley produced, though it is estimated that

   productivity of these crops is low and only negligible quantities come

   into the food chain. What is of more importance in future will be the

   possibility of enhancing domestic grain production through double

   cropping. As estimated 150 000 hectares are earmarked by the government

   as possible areas for autumn and spring double cropping programmes.

   Under the scheme crops are planted in October or March respectively for

   harvesting in June. Provided suitable quantities of seed and fertilizer

   are available an estimated 300 000 tons of grain could potentially be

   produced per annum under the double crop programme. (Also see section 5)

   Vegetables are also an important source of vitamins and essential

   micro-nutrients in the diet. The mission observes that the emphasis

   given to vegetable production, especially on private plots appears to

   have increased since 1995. The contribution of individual family plots

   to household food security is also becoming more significant in this


   3.7     Livestock

   In view of the economic and agricultural climate in the last few years,

   there have been large changes in the composition of the livestock

   sector. Certainly the numbers of livestock, particularly pigs on state

   and co-operative farms have decreased markedly as less grain has been

   available for feed. Observations suggest that numbers in these sectors

   have dropped by as much as sixty to seventy percent in the case of pigs.

   Presently co-operatives appear to maintain core breeding stock for

   reproduction and distribution to individual households for tending. The

   importance of oxen has increased for draft power and the government has

   also emphasised goat rearing, which can be fed on grass and do not

   require grains for feed, as potential suppliers of milk and meat. The

   scarcity of feed has also meant that livestock only receive limited

   quantities of grain and are alternatively fed by-products such as bare

   maize cobs, stalks and grasses. Although such a diet is permissible for

   ruminants,  for pigs grains as part of the diet is essential to maintain

   productive stock. Moreover, the use of cattle for draft use in farm

   operations is becoming more and more important which makes some

   provision of higher energy grain to supplement by-product rations

   essential. The mission observed very few chickens on state enterprise or

   as part of the food economy of individual household. As poultry are

   heavily dependent on grains for feed this lack is attributed to cereal

   shortfalls in recent years. Nonetheless as an important source of

   protein in a balanced diet some build up of this sector is essential in

   future as the mission considers that further depletion of stocks would

   have serious long term repurcussions on nutrition.


   Three consecutive years of natural disasters, coupled with underlying

   problems in the economy and agriculture in the 1990s have inevitably

   resulted in a substantial decrease in food production and supply.

   Production in the past was heavily dependent on an intensive agriculture

   sector where provisions were made to optimise, as much as possible, both

   cereal and livestock production. With high fertilizer applications and

   the intensive use of machines and irrigation, productivity in

   agriculture was high and the country produced most of its needs in

   normal years. In years of shortfall the country was able to import,

   barter, grains from trading partners, especially the former Soviet Union

   and China. The break-up of the former Soviet Union and the corresponding

   economic shocks of the 1990s have greatly incapacitated the ability of

   Korea  DPR to meet food needs in several important ways. The industrial

   sector and the economy has been in steep decline for several years

   eroding the ability to finance either direct food imports or raw

   materials, such as petroleum and fertilizers, which are essential for

   maintaining productivity in agriculture. The result has been a growing

   divergence in food supply and demand over several years. Needless to say

   that natural disasters since 1995 have greatly added to the problem.

   Within this context, therefore, future food security in Korea  DPR

   depends on general economic performance as well as on efforts to

   increase output in agriculture. To this end, it is vital that the

   Government address the major issue of how the industrial sector is to be

   revamped to generate much needed foreign exchange and support domestic

   food production,. In the absence of much needed investment and

   development in industries the future for food supply in Korea  DPR

   appears grim with or without emergencies.

   Over the last twelve months the unprecedented volume of food assistance

   to the country has been crucial to sustain a large part of the

   population, without which the consequences of food shortages, such as

   the extent of malnutrition in the population, would have been far worse.

   With regard to the extent of the problem, however, although there is

   considerable anecdotal evidence of nutritional and health problems in

   the country due to food shortages, there is no statistical evidence of

   its extent.

   In the 1996/97 marketing year taking into account domestic supply of

   grains, the volume of cereal imports, including food aid, and deducting

   grain use for  seed, losses, feed and other uses, it is estimated that

   the per caput availability of cereals was around 129 kg/year or  353

   grams/day. This amount of grain would provide approximately 1235

   Kcal/caput/day. This compares to 457 grams/day or roughly 1600 Kcal/day

   the UN uses to determine minimum emergency rations. Moreover,  although

   in the past it was assumed that food was distributed reasonably

   equitably throughout the population through institutional structures

   such as the Public Distribution System (PDS) it is evident that, in the

   wake of serious food shortages,  food consumption is becoming more

   polarised in society with some provinces and groups consuming more than

   others. Certainly the ability of provinces neighbouring China to counter

   food problems through cross border transactions is much greater that

   those further removed without such access. Moreover it is unlikely that

   the proceeds from such transactions are systematically channelled to the

   rest of the population, not least because internal transport has all but

   ceased operation due to lack of fuel. Even within provinces and

   localities, the agricultural population is better placed to deal with

   food supply constraints than the urban population as supplies to the PDS

   have been dramatically reduced. Unfortunately the extent of such

   polarity and differences in consumption are difficult to substantiate

   through studies and observations as access and mobility in the country

   remain difficult.

   It is also becoming more evident that alternative mechanisms to access

   food, such as private markets and special outlets operated by individual

   employers, are gradually growing in importance. Access to such

   mechanisms, however, are highly dependent on individual circumstance.

   4.1     Cereal food supply/demand balance: 1997/98

   In deriving the national cereal balance for 1997/98, it is important to

   note that the balance sheet is intended to provide an overall -

   national- perspective of needs. Distributional issues and those related

   to differences in consumption in society cannot obviously be reflected

   in such a derivation. It is appropriate for such issues to be dealt with

   through effective targeting of food aid. It is therefore all the more

   important that agencies in the country dealing with humanitarian food

   assistance be allowed greater and freer access to assess such issues, to

   ensure greater transparency in the distribution of food aid. The

   assumptions used in the balance sheet are as follows;

   -  A mid year population of 23.2 million in 1998.

   -  A minimum consumption requirement of 100 kg/caput of rice and 67

   kg/caput of maize per annum to meet 75 percent of daily calorie intake.

   This is the minimum ration the UN uses to determine emergency rations.

   The level of calories from such a quantity of cereals would be

   approximately 1600 kcal/day/caput of an intake of around 2 130 kcal/day.

   In addition to this minimum cereal requirement obviously there is need

   to ensure that the population receive adequate quantities of protein and

   fats from other foods.

   -  The seed requirement for the 1998 crop year, assuming that area

   planted is similar to 1997, would be equivalent to approximately 75 000

   tons of paddy (seed rate of 125 kg/ha) and 29 000 tons of maize using a

   seed rate of 45 kg/ha.

   -  Post harvest and storage losses are assumed to be 12 percent of

   production. Although in the past a lower rate of losses was assumed this

   has been revised up in view of deterioration in the operation and

   maintenance of transport, threshing and storage systems. This year for

   example the mission noted that there were significant delays in the

   transfer of paddy from fields to threshing centres as a result of lack

   of transport.

   -  Since 1995 there has been a dramatic reduction in the numbers of

   animals in the state sector and in the corresponding use of grains for

   animal feed. Currently ruminants are increasingly being fed crop

   by-products such as stalks and dehusked maize cobs. Pigs however, being

   mono-gastric, can not survive on these except in the fresh state and

   therefore will need supplementary feed and grain to survive, especially

   over-winter. In addition given the workload expected of draft animals in

   the next cropping season it is necessary that some provision for

   additional grain to maintain health and productivity is made. In normal

   years a provision of 250 - 300 kg/animal/year  was made for intensively

   fed livestock in the state sector. In the present circumstances a

   provision of 150 kg/animal/year is assumed as the supplement required to

   maintain livestock at reasonable levels of nutrition. This is important

   if the sector is not to deteriorate further.  In addition some provision

   of grain is also included for the build up of the poultry sector which

   are largely grain fed and an important source of meat protein.

   -  In view of the severity of food shortages no stock build up is


   To meet food shortages the country, through national and provincial

   channels, has had to intensify efforts to import food grains

   commercially in spite of deep seated economic problems which severely

   limit trade. In this respect the mission notes that the country over the

   last year has been more successful in securing imports from countries

   like Thailand and Vietnam than hitherto anticipated due to past problems

   of repayment. In 1997/98, commercial imports are provisionally estimated

   at  700 000 tons, including informal and cross border  imports from


   The cereal balance sheet for 1997/98 is shown in Table 5

   Table 5. Korea  DPR: Cereal balance sheet for 1997/98 (Nov/Oct) ('000


   Total Availability:   2 663

   Production:   2 663

   Stock draw-down:   0

   Total Utilisation:   4 614

   Food use:   3 874

   Feed use:   300

   Other uses, seed and losses:   440

   Import requirement:   1 951

   Commercial imports:   700

   Pledged food assistance(a): 241

   Uncovered import requirement:   1 010

   (a) Carryover pledges from the 1996/97 marketing year.

   4.2     Need for external food assistance It is clear that the present

   food crisis in Korea DPR is as much a result of natural disasters in the

   last few years as the consequence of accelerated economic decline,

   particularly after the collapse of preferential trading and economic

   ties with the former Soviet Union. As addressed in earlier sections,

   food production is heavily impeded by a severe lack of essential factors

   of production which, together with natural disasters have led to

   dwindling domestic supplies. Moreover as the country has not been able

   to meet the shortfall between supply and demand through commercial

   imports of food it has had to rely heavily on international assistance.

   Although since 1995, the country has received unprecedented levels of

   food assistance the volume has not been sufficient to meet normal food

   and utilisation needs.  The overall lack of assured supply therefore,

   has had various repercussions; minimum food needs in parts of the

   population have not been met, there has been a dramatic reduction in

   utilisation through reduction of grain use for feed and other uses and

   the public distribution system has become far less important in ensuring

   essential supplies to urban population. The reduction in grain use in

   food and feed in turn will undoubtedly result in nutritional problems in

   some strata of the population and  further reduce the availability of

   animal protein in the diet. As part of coping mechanisms more and more

   discrepancies are appearing in society in terms of food acquisition. For

   example the development of a parallel marketing system, outside the

   state structure, which primarily benefits parts of the population with

   access to remittances from abroad or tradable assets.

   The significant fall in domestic food production over the last few years

   has also meant that there is greater resistance in the farming

   population to supply food to the urban population without sufficient

   compensation in goods and services. These goods and services are,

   however, becoming increasingly unavailable as large parts of the

   manufacturing sector remain idle, with only an estimated 30 percent of

   industrial capacity presently operating.

   Also this year, co-operative and state farms will not be able to provide

   adequate food to the Public Distribution System (PDS) and food flows

   between surplus and deficit areas will be much reduced due to transport


   The combination of all these factors have led to polarity in food

   consumption in various respects, ie people with assets and remittances

   fare better than those without, the farming community is better placed

   to meet shortages than the urban population, whilst individual

   provinces, especially those neighbouring China or those having better

   agriculutral production, have become more autonomous in dealing with

   food supply problems. Overall, therefore, food shortages are most

   entrenched in urban areas and, of this, in parts of the population which

   so far have relied entirely on the PDS for food supply.

   In spite of the coping mechanisms, which have countered food shortages

   in the country to some extent, over the next year Korea DPR will

   continue to need large scale international food assistance for segments

   of the population that have the least capacity to acquire food and or

   have limited access to other channels of supply such as markets.

   4.3     Targeted food assistance

   Most observers agree that targeting of food assistance to children,

   especially in nurseries and kindergartens, considerably reduced

   malnutrition rates in this group. In general, this assistance was well

   targeted and could be satisfactorily monitored. Therefore, a

   continuation of such assistance on a national basis is highly


   Children in nurseries and kindergartens will receive cooked meals

   providing around 1 600 kcal/day as well as required protein. The

   programme could cover up to 2.6 million children, 6 years and under.

   In addition, an assistance programme to pregnant and nursing mothers

   should provide supplementary food as take-home rations with an energy

   content of about 980 kcal/day and 25 gram protein for a period of 18

   months. This programme could target around 460 000 mothers/year in

   programmes jointly carried out with partners in the health sector.

   Up to 315 000 tons of cereals plus 95 000 tons of other food would be

   required for the Vulnerable Group Feeding, as described above.

   In the event sufficient donor support is forthcoming to support the

   production of biscuits and/or for the preparation of meals for school

   children in the 7 to 12 years age bracket, the provision of

   supplementary food providing 525 kcal/day  would be a very valuable

   contribution to supplement the diet for this vulnerable group. Such a

   programme could support up to 2.2 million school children and about 160

   000 tons of cereals would be needed.

   During the last two years, Food for Work activities have been very

   successful and well appreciated both by the beneficiaries and by

   government. The mission recommends to increase these activities in order

   to support land rehabilitation activities and to stimulate other

   employment generating activities for a large part of the industrial

   workforce which is presently under-employed due to a stagnant economy.

   Up to 320 000 tons of cereals could be used in this programme, which

   should provide employment for an average period of 6 months for about

   0.9 million workers and provide food for them and their families (in

   total approx. 4 million beneficiaries). This would reduce pressure on

   the PDS and at the same time allow improved targeting and monitoring of

   international food assistance. A summary of food assistance need for

   targeting of such programs is outlined in table 6.

   Table 6 Korea DPR: Food aid needs for targeted beneficiaries.

   [Original in Table showing: Type of Assistance, Quantity of Cereals

   ('000 tons), and Beneficiaries ( '000s). Reformatted for text file

   version by WFP]

   Type of Assistance:  Nutritional support nurseries, kindergartens (6

   years and under)

   Quantity of Cereals ('000 tons):  290

   Beneficiaries ( '000s):  2 630

   Type of Assistance:  Pregnant and lactating mothers

   Quantity of Cereals ('000 tons):  25

   Beneficiaries ( '000s):  460

   Type of Assistance:  School feeding (7 to 12 years.)

   Quantity of Cereals ('000 tons):  160

   Beneficiaries ( '000s):  2 200

   Type of Assistance: Food for work

   Quantity of Cereals ('000 tons):  320

   Beneficiaries ( '000s):  4 000

   Total Quantity of Cereals ('000 tons):  795

   Beneficiaries ( '000s):  9 290

   Since the overall deficit to be covered by external assistance is 1.251

   million tons of cereals in 1997/98, including food aid in the pipeline,

   the mission recommends that the balance, over and above assistance to

   targeted beneficiaries above, which amount to some 456 000 tons be

   channelled through the PDS on a regionally selective basis as programme

   food aid.

   4.4     Food aid monitoringDealing with the international relief

   community and with procedures linked to foreign food assistance is new

   in Korea DPR. Nonetheless, a well functioning public administration and

   an elaborate public food distribution network greatly facilitate the

   distribution and accounting of food assistance. A limited amount of spot

   checks with distribution centres carried out by the mission proved a

   high level of accountability. However, greater transparency in food aid

   distributions is still needed and in this respect the Government is

   urged to provide and facilitate more information and greater random

   access to distribution centres and different parts of the country. As

   there are an increasing number of international agencies working in food

   aid distribution in Korea DPR there is also greater need for the UN

   system and Government to work together in co-ordinating these efforts.

   In doing so, Government and relief agencies need to agree that food

   assistance programmes can only cover institutions and areas which are

   accessible and where it is possible to verify beneficiary numbers and

   actual beneficiary receipts. All other beneficiary groups have to be

   supported through the government distribution system using national



   Future food security in Korea DPR will be highly influenced by the

   performance of the economy and the ability of the country to generate

   revenues to import essential inputs for agriculture and food in years of

   shortfall. Such food security can only be assured in the long term

   through a robust economy. As it is impossible that the economic fortunes

   of the country can change overnight there is need for external

   interventions in the short to medium term to safeguard the nutritional

   health of the population and promote greater food security through a

   more efficient and sustainable agricultural system. Apart from food

   assistance to vulnerable groups which are essential in the short term,

   additional food for work programmes should also be considered for

   agricultural rehabilitation and other productive schemes.

   In the short to medium term the country also needs assistance in

   revitalising its agriculture to enhance domestic food production. In

   view of land limitations it would obviously be desirable to optimise

   land use through enhanced cropping which would enable more than one crop

   a year to be harvested. Over the last year the country was assisted by

   FAO and other UN agencies in the implementation of a limited double

   cropping programme with assistance with barley seed and fertilizers. It

   is estimated that approximately 150 000 hectares would be suitable in

   future for such cropping with which the international community could

   assist with the provision of suitable seeds and fertilizers.

   International assistance with the supply of herbicides and insecticides

   which are in very short supply, would also enhance productivity.

   Other areas to promote greater food security include:

   -  Crop diversification to reduce the emphasis on mono-cropping. Such

   diversification would enhance soil productivity in the long run and

   reduce risk of crop loss in any one year due to adverse weather


   -  Research and trials of early maturing and short-maturing varieties to

   optimise land use.

   -  Research into effective crop rotation schemes and leguminous crops to

   promote soil fertility and productivity.

   -  Research and development of integrated crop and livestock systems.

   -  Reforestry programmes to redress ecological problems due to

   cultivation of marginal hill slopes.

   This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP

   Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources.

   Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for

   further information if required.

   Abdur Rashid

   Chief, GIEWS FAO

   Telex 610181 FAO I

   Fax: 0039-6-5705-4495


   Ms. J. Cheng-Hopkins

   Regional Director, OAP, WFP

   Telex: 626675 WFP 1

   Fax: 0039-6-6513-2209

   E-Mail: Judy.Cheng-Hopkins@WFP.ORG

   Please note that this Special Report is available on the Internet as

   part of the FAO World Wide Web at the following URL address: