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Government Report Claims Bumper Crop Yields

Kim So Yeol  |  2012-01-28 12:25
The North Pyongan Province Rural Management Committee reported to the North Korean authorities that the wheat harvest for 2011 increased 42.2% (to 106.2 million ton) compared to last year.

In a report recently acquired by Daily NK entitled 2011 North Pyongan Wheat Crop Summary, the actual harvest was roughly 106.2 million ton, 1.8 million tons more than the estimated crop of 104.4 million tons. According to the data, this is a 42.2% increase compared to last year.

The data was compiled by the North Pyongan Rural Management Committee, using information obtained from collective farms in the villages and cities, with the final tally being done by the Rural Management Committee before being reported to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced in November last year that grain production in the region was 98.0 tons, although that data did not include the spring potato crops.

The North Pyongan Rural Management Committee that by categorizing potato crops as grain, this would have netted an extra 9.9 million tons. Thus, if the potato output was included in the World Food Programme estimates then it would be a total of 107.9 million ton, or close to the 106.2 million ton figure stated in the data. The figures closely mirrored one another, with the WFP estimating 37 million tons of corn compared to the official report of 36.6 million tons.

The reason for the harvests 42.2% increase in 2011 is considered to be because it comes on the back of extremely poor harvests in 2010. The Amnok River of Sinuiju is sometimes called the breadbasket of North Korea, and in the summer of 2010 it suffered severe damage. Along with South Hwanghae Province, North Pyongan Province is North Koreas largest agricultural region.

Assistant Director Kwon Tae Jin of the Korea Rural Economic Institute said, Crop harvest was 79.5 million tons in 2010 because it was in really bad shape adding that 42.2% is not an absurd increase in production.

As Assistant Director Kwon elaborated, The WFP revealed that the fall harvest of North Pyongan Province increased 23% compared to the previous year, but double-cropping production was not included and given that there was no damage from cold weather at the beginning of last year, the increase could be even higher. Kwon concluded that There was no flood damage last year in North Pyongan Province and therefore the numbers could be accurate.

However, there are some suggestions that the WFPs data is similar to North Koreas harvest reports because the WFP reports cited official figures, and therefore potentially not reflecting the true situation. Such figures could possibly have been inflated in the process of being handed to higher level officials, and therefore there are limits to estimating North Koreas real food situation relying only on this data.

Assistant Director Kwon commented, As I understand, unlike the past there have been less exaggerations of the data as it has moved up the hierarchy, suggesting that the food production data does have credibility.

The measured data consisted of rice, corn, wheat barley, sorghum, beans, various other grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes, with the report split into separate categories such as Plan, Crops, Net Increase and Year-on-Year Change, with all figures cited in metric tons. In the case of rice, North Korean authorities originally estimated production of 54.7 million tons, not far from the actual harvest of 55.0 million tons. Rice production grew by 42.5% compared to the previous year.

Corn crops also surpassed expectations, with the highest surplus considered against estimates. Planned production was 33.2 million tons and was exceeded by 10%, for a total of 36.6 million tons. Corn crop increased 66.2% compared to last year and had the highest growth rate in the list.

By contrast, the worst performing crops based against estimates were wheat and barley (-45.2%), sorghum (-38.5%), beans (-22.9%) and potatoes (-8%).

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