GIEWS Update: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Food Supply and Demand Outlook in 2017/18 (November/October)

Highlights:

• Aggregate crop production in 2017/18 is forecast at 5.5 million tonnes, 5 percent below the 2016/17 level.

• Production prospects for the 2017/18 early season crops are favourable, partially compensating the reduced main season output gathered in October 2017 that was affected by dry weather conditions.

• The overall cereal deficit for the 2017/18 marketing year (November/October) is forecast at about 652 000 tonnes, well above the previous year’s already high level, reflecting an anticipated reduction in domestic output and imports.

This report assesses the food supply and demand situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the 2017/18 marketing year (November/October). It presents the 2017/18 aggregate crop production, which includes the 2017 main season, completed by October 2017, and the 2017/18 minor early season crops (wheat, barley and potatoes) currently being harvested.

Cropping season overview

The main agriculture season starts in April, with the arrival of the spring rains, and the harvest normally takes place between September and October (Figure 1). Low temperatures at the beginning of the season require, to a large extent, raising seedlings (for rice and maize) in protected beds for subsequent transplanting when field conditions become suitable. The availability of water for irrigation is critical in determining the main season output, particularly in the case of paddy crops. Paddy and maize are the major main season crops, contributing to about 80 percent of the national cereal production and are predominantly grown in the southern and central provinces of the country (Figure 2). Early season crops, including winter wheat and barley sown in October‑November, are harvested between June and early July, depending on the geographic location within the country. Planted area with wheat and barley crops has declined since 2003 and it has been gradually replaced mostly by early potatoes. Despite a minor output compared to the main crops, the early crops are important for food security as they mark the end of the lean season.