SWG: Food Security and Agriculture

dprk korea food security

The Food Security and Agriculture Sector Working Group enhances inter-agency collaboration and information-sharing on food security and agriculture related issues in DPR Korea, thereby drawing in the attention of the wider international community. The SWG aims to increase coordination and collaboration in identifying possible convergence of intervention strategies, explore partnership initiatives, and maximise synergy and efficiency in the allocation and utilisation of resources. There have also been efforts to engage in a food security policy dialogue with the Government.


Despite progress made in recent years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been food-deficit since the mid-1990s.  Agriculture is a major economic sector of the DPR Korea and is identified as a major thrust area in its development policies. Instability in agricultural production is a major challenge, largely due to its vulnerability to natural disasters such as droughts, floods, tidal surges, hail storms, typhoons and extremely cold winters. The agricultural sector is also struggling with inadequacy of farming infrastructure and shortage of essential agricultural inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizer, plastic sheets, insecticides/pesticides, fuel, farming and transport machinery and spare parts. Domestic farming techniques have increased the acidity of soils, which makes some soil nutrients unavailable and reduces the effectiveness of others. Lack of crop rotation and post-harvest losses are other contributing factors which aggravates the food insecurity situation in the country.


The heavy emphasis on cereal production (80 per cent of arable land) has dietary repercussions, due to the low numbers of livestock and limited availability of vegetables and legumes. Whilst soybean cultivation has expanded in recent years, there is still a shortage of protein and oil, leading to insufficient energy density and low digestibility. The inadequacy of the people’s diet also translates into widespread micronutrient deficiencies which make people susceptible to infectious diseases, impair physical and mental development, reduce their labor productivity and increase the risk of premature death.


Groups most vulnerable to undernutrition are those who experience elevated needs such as pre-pregnant, pregnant and nursing women, as well as children under five. Hunger and malnutrition also have marked spatial and regional dimensions, with urban areas dependent on public food rations and mountainous inland regions more vulnerable than the rest of the country. Inadequate road infrastructure and access to productive agricultural fields affect economic potential, as does the degradation of existing natural resources such as water, forests, pastures and fisheries.